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Bears and wolves to coexist in British woods for the first time in 1,000 years – is this a good idea?

Bears have been introduced to Bear Wood at the Wild Place Project in Bristol
European bears have been introduced to ancient woods near Bristol for the first time in 1,000 years Credit: istock

I was looking at something that nobody has observed in the British Isles for over 1,000 years. A bear, snoozing under an oak tree in a tract of ancient woodland. 

At least, I was pretty sure it was a bear. I squinted and waited to make sure that I was looking at the right “lump of brown” that the ranger had pointed out. Then, the lump rolled over, as comedically lethargic as Winnie or Yogi, and fell back into a doze. 

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen a bear perform this distinctive sidewards lollop. As a child I marvelled at brown bears while on a family holiday in western Canada. We stayed in a cabin in the woods, arriving by sea plane. I recall my dad had a can of pepper spray (thankfully, not needed) shoved in the side pocket of his backpack while he fished for our dinner, my brothers and I on strict instructions from mum to stay close.

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