Goiat, most infamous bear from the Spanish Pyrenees, has been declared dead

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Goiat brown bear

Goiat, the most infamous from the Spanish Pyrenees, has been officially declared dead. The bear was brought to the Pyrenees from Slovenia to increase genetic diversity among the bear population. However, two years have passed without Goiat showing any signs of life.

After fruitless attempts to track down Goiat, Red Oso Pardo authorities have decided to add the infamous bear to the list of deceased animals. The bear has been missing since April 2022. Red Oso Pardo is a partnership between France, Catalonia, Andorra, Aragon and Navarra. With Goiat’s declaration of death, there are a total of 7 bears that have shown no sign of life. “An adult male like him, normally very active, can hardly go unnoticed for more than a year,” they emphasise at Red Oso Pardo.

A controversial bear

Goiat rose to fame quickly after he arrived in 2016. This arose less because of its contribution to the diversity of the bear population, but more because of its destructive behaviour. His attacks on livestock in areas such as the Aran Valley, Sobrarbe and Ribagorza in the Aragon region caused much unrest among local farmers. Goiat’s behaviour also led to calls for his removal from the Pyrenees. However, this protocol was never applied. His collar transmitter, successfully replaced in 2018, soon stopped giving signals. That added to the uncertainty about his whereabouts. Despite several attempts to deter him, Goiat continued to pose a danger to local agriculture.

A missed mission

The introduction of Goiat should put an end to the genetic dominance of Pyros, the patriarch of most of the bears in the area. Despite this “star status”, Goiat became more infamous for his attacks on livestock than for his love affairs. The bear preferred horses and seemed to have no fear of humans. That made him a direct threat to both livestock and the local population.

Cogesa Expats

“Bear problem not solved”

“There are many more Goiats, the problem is not solved,” says José Serveto. He is the mayor of Plan and a livestock farmer and does not feel reassured by the declaration of death. “The disappearance of one bear does not solve the problem,” he emphasises. That’s why he continues to demand that the bears be controlled to prevent attacks on livestock. “Otherwise you live in fear of finding the animals you have cared for all year dead,” he says.

Red Oso Pardo’s study shows an increase in bears in the Pyrenees region to 83 individuals (26 females and 17 adult males, 17 subadult males, 7 subadult females and 16 cubs). These animals spread over 71,000 square kilometres, 1,700 more than in 2022.

Two attacks on humans since 1996

The report indicates that between 1996 and 2022, 1,130 visual sightings of bears were validated in the French Pyrenees alone, 62% between May and August. When seeing a person, 58% of the bears fled. 26% moved without running, 11% showed indifference, 3% remained vigilant and only 2% showed aggressiveness (growling, intimidation…). Only two physical attacks with non-lethal bites have been recorded. Both were done by bears with cubs who were surprised by a large hunting party with dogs.

Also read: The success of the brown bear in Spain draws international attention

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