The first pictures of 'Hvala', a Slovenian brown bear that has been on the run since attacking a hunter in the Aran valley last Thursday, suggest that she may be pregnant.
The images, which were taken from above by the crew of a helicopter team participating in the operation to capture her, indicate that 'Hvala' is "fat and strong" despite fears that illness or injury may have prompted the attack on a 72-year-old man taking part in a wild boar hunt with dogs in a forest near Les (Lleida).
Guillermo Palermo, who is the president of the Brown Bear Foundation, yesterday dismissed the attack as, "one more incident involving a cornered animal like the twenty cases a year in the Cantabrian mountains involving wild boars, though there's always much more fuss when it's a bear."
Insisting that 'Hvala' "is not an aggressive animal," Mr Palermo accused those who have been labelling her a "killer bear" of "distorting the truth."
Although Mr Palermo believes that, long term, 'Hvala' should be left in peace, he agrees that the operation to capture her should continue so that vets can assess her condition and repair her damaged identification and GPS tracking chip, but argues that she should subsequently be immediately re-released back into the wild.
Forestry agents locate rogue Slovenian bear
Sunday, October 26, 2008
A team of around thirty forestry agents assisted from above by a helicopter spotter team, managed to locate the brown bear that attacked and injured a hunter in a forest near Lleida last Thursday.
The next step will be to shoot the bear with a tranquilizer dart, or catch it in a trap, then take it to the Arties o Vallcalent fauna conservation centre in Lleída.
'Hvala' is a Slovenian brown bear weighing 100kg with two cubs, 'Polem' and 'Bambou'. She was transferred to the area from France in 2006, and found by means of an electronic identification chip injected into her neck that enables her movements to be tracked via satellite.
Last Thursday she attacked a 72-year-old man taking part in a wild boar hunt in the Vall d'Aran, who escaped with bite wounds to one arm and leg after a totally unprovoked attack that ended when he managed to fire off a warning shot in the air.
Given that this is the first incident of its type involving 'Hvala', or indeed any of the other Slovenian brown bears brought in since 1996 to repopulate the area, it is suspected that she may be ill, or injured.