‘My life flashed before my eyes’: French hiker survives bear attack

A young French mountaineer has told the terrifying story of how he survived being chased by a bear in the Spanish Pyrenees.

'My life flashed before my eyes': French hiker survives bear attack
Photo: John Solaroo/Flickr
Twenty-two-year-old Lucas Meurlet knows how lucky he is to still be alive. 
On Monday August 21, the young man from Nantes “saw his life flash before his eyes” on a hillside in Catalonia’s Aran Valley, very close to the France’s border with Spain. 
Meurlet was hiking in the Spanish Pyreeness with his father and brother when he decided to attempt a climb up to a ridge at nearly 2,500 metres above sea level. 
As his family members watched him climb up, they noticed the 22 year old unwittingly approaching a bear and its three cubs. They shouted out to alert him but by then it was too late.
Meurlet came face to face with the mother bear, clearly threatened by the encroachment into her territory and the threat she perceived to her cubs. 
Horrified he began to run away, but the animal chased after him. 
“I started to feel my legs failing me,” he told France Bleu, describing how he thought that was ‘it’. 
With escape seeming impossible, Lucas found courage at an impasse and decided to confront the beast.
“I spread my arms and tried to intimidate her,” he recalled.
“She charged at me twice, the third time she opened her mouth wide. 
“Suddenly, I found it in me to show the bear that I wanted to keep my life.
“I screamed at her with all my strength. And the bear actually took a step back and left.”
Still in a state of shock, the hiker takes refuge behind some bushes. Lucas’s father meanwhile called the Spanish emergency services. 
Three helicopters arrived at the scene very quickly, airlifting the three men to safety at the shelter of Eylie Sentein in Ariege. 

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Bear hunt launched in France after rescue cub escapes from village

A malnourished bear cub found wandering alone through a French village last week has escaped from the home of its appointed carer, triggering a major search, local authorities said Monday.

Bear hunt launched in France after rescue cub escapes from village
Bears are sometimes spotted living wild in the French mountains. Photo: AFP

The cub, believed to be about five months old, has very little chance of survival unless found in the coming hours, according to authorities in Tarn, a southwestern region in the French Pyrenees.

Weighing a mere 8kg, it presents “no danger to humans,” officials said in a statement.

SEE ALSO VIDEO: French farmers v wolves and bears in a battle for livelihood

The bear was found in south west France. Photo: Préfecture of Ariège

The little bear, which was separated from its mother before being weaned, was very weak when found in Couflens, a village on the French-Spanish border. 

After being caught by agents from France's national hunting and wildlife agency ONCFS, it was taken in by a person licensed to keep wild animals.

Saint-Pierre-de-Trivisy, about 100 km east of Toulouse.

No details about how the cub escaped were immediately available.

A team of 12, including three ONCFS wildlife experts, were searching for the animal on Monday.

The authorities appealed for information on any sightings. 

About 50 brown bears live on the French side of the Pyrenees mountains that straddle the border with Spain. 

France began reintroducing bears from Slovenia about 20 years ago, despite opposition from local farmers, after the native population was hunted to near extinction.