Slovenian brown bear released in the Catalan Pyrenees

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© GenCat
FREEDOM: Goiat is released into the wilds of the High Pyrenees.

A BROWN BEAR has been transferred from the Jelen game reserve in Slovenia to Isil in Lleida province, Cataluña, in order to compete with a dominant male by the name of Pyros, who is the father, grandfather and great-grandfather of almost all bears currently residing in the Catalan Pyrenees.

Pyros arrived to the region in 1997, and is also of Slovenian origin, but the reproductive monopoly is not considered a positive thing, and the hope is that the new bear will add new genetic variability to the population.

He has been named ‘Goiat’, which roughly translates as young or unmarried boy in the local Pallaresa dialect, is estimated to be between 9 and 10 years old, and weighs 205 kilos.

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There are currently between 30 and 36 brown bears inhabiting the central Pyrenees, of which seven are adult males and 10 are sexually mature adult females.

A team of nine people have been caring for Goiat since his trapping on Monday June 6, following a series of failed attempts to catch him, and he has been fitted with special tags in his ears, as well as a GPS ‘necklace’, so that experts from the ‘Piroslife’ project can track his movements.

The transmitter is powered by a battery, and the bear will be located by conventional means such as droppings, footprints, hair and camera traps once this expires.

During the mid-1990s the brown bear almost became extinct in the Pyrenees, with only a tiny relict population inhabiting the Atlantic side in France, Navarra and Aragon, therefore an EU-funded LIFE programme was developed in the latter half of that decade.

The first two bears, both female, were released in 1996 before Pyros joined them in 1997, with Slovenian bears chosen due to their genetic relatedness to their Spanish cousins.

Pyros is now 27 years old and is starting to show signs of old age, although he has been busy in the two decades since his relocation, fathering 28 known cubs with six different females.

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