Brown bears of Pirinei mountains, northern Spain

In one of the previous articles ( here ), was mentioned about the effort to re-introduce brown bears in Pirinei mountains, northern Spain. There have been a number of bears captured (mostly from Slovenia) and released in several areas of the mountains, enough to call it a symbolical re-population of the vast area with one of Europe’s top predators, but not enough to secure a viable and self-sustaining population.

Travelling in one of the areas, we had the chance to enjoy authentic mountain scenery, and also learn from locals what is their view on the topic, after reading in press few claims of bear attack over the livestock grazing freely in an area, including a horse! Pretty unheard for a brown bear to attack such big animals, known that they are shy animals, and most of them live on a complete vegetarian diet, unless opportunistically an occasion arises to find a dead animal on their way!

What we were told by locals is that the release of bears was inappropriate, that the central government agreed to an European funded project to re-populate the area with brown bears, but in fact some bears being relocated were coming from private hunting reserves, where they were used to eating livestock…that could have explained indeed the recent attacks in the areas. Unfortunately this bad experience turned completely the local populations against bears in general, which otherwise are peaceful animals, and we are personally afraid that the whole project is now compromised, as well as in the near future, as skeptics will always use this bad experience to fight off any new attempts of the bear introduction. Also all local bears already released, bad or good ones, they are under risk of being shot, poisoned and trapped, by local hunters, thinking they will do what is just, even if illegal!

Pretty sad news, after an initial successful re-integration when few female brown bears already had small cubs, sign that they find enough food in the area and they would accommodate well! A recent amateur video shows a brown bear caught on camera in the area (however a very bad practice to try to film animals this way): video here

6 thoughts on “Brown bears of Pirinei mountains, northern Spain

    • Indeed, it is a shame! some office bureaucrat was in a hurry to spend the money for the project, and some private company was in a hurry to deliver the bears, at lowest cost possible, and taking it from a hunting private reserve did the trick! Consequences are very bad for the long term success of project!

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  1. Many countries have bad laws, and many authorities look between their fingers. What we hear about is a fraction of what happens, the number of unreported cases is high.
    In Sweden there have been bears throughout the country, hundreds of years ago. Today they are most in the upper part of the country. There are currently approximately 2800 bears, but have been around 3500, and of course, the hunter who has got his own way to show off the blood lust, shooting bear. Our Scandinavian bear is very peaceful, living most on berries, ants and plants. It is possible that the killing elk and reindeer, but very rarely, it lives mostly on dead animals it finds, and of course want the reindeer owners eradication it.
    There are big problems with poaching in northern Sweden, where there are large areas of land, few people and even fewer policemen.

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