Pyrenean dogs have been introduced to the French Alps to protect the sheep from wild wolves, but it’s not just the sheep they seem to be turning their attentions towards.
Jean-Luc Renaud was interviewed by the Times, as he saw a Belgian tourist who had been ravaged by a Pyrenean mountain dog. He told the Times that the tourist was staggering towards him, covered in blood:
His shorts were torn and he had been bitten badly in both buttocks. He was in a state of complete shock.
The mountain dogs were brought in to deal with wolves, and have caused controversy within the local community. There is already debate over the reintroduction of wolves in France.
Because of the attacks by the Pyrenean mountain dogs, shepherds have faced prosecution and 17 dogs have been poisoned.
The dog in question, Le Chien de Montagne des Pyrénées (which means Pyrenean mountain dog) is a fearless dog that weighs up to 60kg. They will fight to the death to save their flock against predators such as wolves and bears.
After wolves were reintroduced in France, in 1992, the Pyrenean mountain dogs were introduced as an attempt to pacify shepherds. The dogs have been very effective, bringing down the deaths of flock from wolves from 3,700 to 2,500 in just one year.
However the dogs are also quite fierce when approached by anyone they consider a threat, such as the holidaymakers. When Mr Renaud found the Belgian tourist he also found four dogs had surrounded him.
I am not afraid of dogs and so I stopped to let the female come up to sniff me. She not only smelt me, she bit me in the calf.
Recently 17 dogs were killed after they had eaten poisoned meat. It’s not clear if the deaths were from extremists who are supporting the reintroduction of the wolves, and don’t want the mountain dogs protecting flock, or whether it’s down to locals who are unhappy at the drop in tourism due to the attacks.
Whatever the reason, the Pyrenean mountain dogs are merely doing their jobs in protecting their flock from predators.