these urban dogs that traumatize the landscape

In the city of pepper, the epicenter of the phenomenon, astonishing and violent attacks on sheep herds have been increasing for months. Here, at the entrance to the inland Basque Country, as opposed to the more remote region…

In the city of pepper, the epicenter of the phenomenon, astonishing and violent attacks on sheep herds have been increasing for months. Here, at the entrance to the interior of the Basque Country, unlike the more remote region of Lantabat, where the wolf had been accused for a period this summer before being – officially – acquitted, the predator is clearly identified. This is its distant domestic cousin. Finally domesticated… It’s the whole problem that annoys the local farmers to the core.

I wonder if I won’t take a gun to protect my flock

Anarchic deconfinement

Faced with the ease of these aggressive dogs and especially their masters, some, without solutions, go as far as wanting to take justice into their own hands. Thierry Hiriart takes aim: “When I go to see my sheep in the mountains, I have two tools: my walking stick and my binoculars. I ask myself if I don’t want to take a third, a rifle to protect my pack. An extreme and ancestral process, which can also consist of killing, arbitrarily, a canine individual deemed to be threatening.


Ewes are attacked in the neck or thigh.

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At the height of the generalized psychosis in Lower Navarre, municipal decrees had authorized this practice. Innocent people had been executed. We are not there at the foot of Mondarrain, but the issue is taken very seriously by the mayor of Espelette, Jean-Marie Iputcha, also excited. In the crosshairs of the city councilor, like breeders, a minority of these urban wanderers landed en masse at the end of the confinement. On what now looks like the Sunday Promenade Highway.

Thierry Hiriart had to euthanize two of his black head manex after the dog attack.


Thierry Hiriart had to euthanize two of his black head manex after the dog attack.

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These wanderers must understand that they are not arriving on conquered land

Thierry Hiriart remembers the day of liberation. “It was a crazy thing, they jumped everywhere in the middle of the sheep. The liberation would have remained good-natured if among these unrestrained there were not a few inconsistent wanderers, eager to let their dogs roam off-leash. “They have this belief, ‘My dog ​​is harmless’. But they have never seen it in the mountains,” summarizes Panpi Olaizola. The breeder from Espelette was one of the first hits of the year 2022. In May. Two dogs, four sheep killed.

A mountain police

“These hikers must understand that they are not arriving on conquered land,” thunders Jean-Marie Iputcha. The mayor, “100% alongside breeders”, reminds that dogs must be tied up in the mountains. Signs have been added at the start of the various paths leading to Mondarrain. Since this summer and the creation of an intercommunal police that brings together six municipalities (Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle, Ascain, Sare, Espelette, Ainhoa ​​​​and Arbonne), two agents have been in the heights to remind them of Herske .

Andoni Cazenave raises 250 red-haired manex on the flanks of Mondarrain in Itxassou.


Andoni Cazenave raises 250 red-haired manex on the flanks of Mondarrain in Itxassou.

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But is that enough? Breeders who also try prevention encounter disturbing nonchalance: “Most hikers understand, notes Andoni Cazenave, breeder in Itxassou, last targeted in early December (a dead ewe, one in bad shape). But others let as if, and some ask us… why our dog is not attached! But we are here to work! “We are often repackaged, teases Thierry Hiriart. “Are you looking for shit or what?” »

Jean-Marie Iputcha would like to believe that things have changed positively since the arrival of the police: “We must not cry victory, but we see the best, many more dogs on a leash. Recently affected breeders are more pessimistic. They called for a “coexistence between shepherds and walkers” (Andoni Cazenave) and shared their experiences on the networks. History of Accelerating Consciousness. If the atrocities continue, the inter-municipal agents will now also be able to name the perpetrators.

Seasonal and stray dogs

Not all mob attacks will stop. Hikers are not the only cause. “There are also seasonal dogs and stray dogs,” adds Jean-Marie Iputcha. Mayor ezpeletar was called a month ago for a massacre in Larressore. “The dog of a seasonal worker from Espelette, from the Sabarots company. He had skinned eight sheep and was licking his chops. “Many seasonal workers come with dogs, I systematically ask them to tie them up”, Thierry Hiriart tries to anticipate. The issue remains limited to a few attacks, but vigilance appears to be warranted.

In 2022

Able to Four sheep of Panpi Olaizola (sasi ardi) are killed in Espelette during the attack of two stray dogs (two sheep belonging to a neighbor also perish during the attack).
December 3 A sheep of Andoni Cazenave is killed (manex head red), another seriously wounded, in Itxassou, during the attack of two wandering dogs.
Mid December Eight ewes belonging to a breeder from Larressore were killed during an attack by a seasonal dog on Espelette pepper (Sabarots establishment).
December 30 Two sheep of Thierry Hiriart (manex black head), seriously injured during the attack in Espelette by two dogs that escaped from a house in Souraïde, are to be killed. Another is injured.

It is even more increased for stray dogs, escaped from their owners or simply abandoned in the open mountains, out of fashion to be freed. Thierry Hiriart, who was targeted by stray dogs on several occasions in recent years, this time saw his pack surprised by two stray dogs. It was Friday, December 30: “I was alerted by someone who heard barking in a meadow where I had my herd. Two dogs chased a sheep. »

Odd match. And so hard to prevent. It still happens that the damage (1), at least financially, can be repaired. The pictures of the crazy doggies were posted on Facebook.

The smiling owner, overwhelmed by his dogs’ escape, condemned himself and vowed to do whatever was necessary. The moral loss is never compensated: “To see your sheep slaughtered is very heartbreaking…”

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