Castration Looms for Alpha Bear

The downside of sexual dominance

Jun 9, 2014
Outside Magazine

In the Pyrenees, an elderly brown bear named Pyros has been so sexually dominant that none of his rivals have had a chance to mate. In fact, local authorities are considering having him castrated to give other males in the colony a shot at fulfilling their biological purpose.

French and Spanish officials have long been trying to reintroduce the brown bear into the mountainous region that forms a natural border between the two nations. As the Guardian reports, there are only about 30 specimens of Ursus arctos active in the area, and Pyros is one of the oldest. He is the father, grandfather, or great-grandfather of nearly every cub born in the past two decades. Most brown bears begin to lose their potency after 19 years of age, but Pyros is still going strong at 26.

Sometimes there's an incestuous overlap. A recent cub proved to be both his daughter and his granddaughter, which prompted those monitoring the ursine population to consider more drastic measures.

The noncastration option for the insatiable Pyros is segregation. Ignasi Rodriguez, from the Catalan regional government, said authorities were considering capturing Pyros and "finding him a new home, perhaps in a sanctuary for bears."

Though this option would probably be preferable to Pyros, the cost of the alternate plan has yet to be determined. Not to mention the issue of how well this bear, who is so clearly in his element, would fare in a less wild environment.

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