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Keywords:

  • conservation policies;
  • mountain geography;
  • natural patrimonialization;
  • political ecology;
  • Pyrenees;
  • territorialization

ABSTRACT. The Pyrenees are becoming an environmental reservoir. The acute human depopulation experienced during the twentieth century and the progressive appropriation of large parts of the mountainous territory by the state in order to implement conservation policies have resulted in the return, via reintroduction or natural regeneration, of bears, wolves, beavers, river otters, marmots, mouflon, feral goats, and deer, among other species. This development, however, has not occurred without social and scientific controversy and leads to questions about territorialization and governmentality. Herders perceive wild animals as unregulated public property subsidized by the work of the local populace. Agriculturalists see their fields trespassed on a daily basis by animals they cannot kill because of their protected status. Ranchers, under extremely strict sanitation regulations, see their animals coming into contact with these unchecked wild populations. The work and living space of the mountain communities has fallen under the jurisdiction of external institutions and constituencies that value conservation and ecotourism above local subsistence.