OVIEDO – Good news: the bear population in Spain is growing again. However, that also means a higher chance of encountering one. But what a cute experience when you are out driving than to see bear cubs playing in front of your car.
That happened to a few motorists last weekend in Asturias. To their surprise, two playing bear cubs crossed the road. The cubs walked calmly on the asphalt of the road to Castro de Somiedo (Asturias). They played with each other a bit and were not at all shocked by the car from which they were filmed. And not even when another car came from the other side. The boy’s mother did not appear. And after a few minutes, they disappeared back into the thicket.
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Growing bear population in Somiedo
The video of these animals playing was shared by the maker Damian Sierra Vazquez with El País and other media and attracted a lot of attention last weekend. In the area where the image was taken, it is not uncommon to see bears. Nearby is the Somiedo Natural Park, home to a modest but slowly growing bear population. About a third of all bears in the Cantabrian Mountains live here. Therefore, traffic signs on this road warn of crossing bears for good reason.
More bears and more tourists
Incidentally, this has only been the case in recent years. Bears almost became extinct in this area in the early 1990s. Then, in recent years, the population has been growing again due to better nature management. Consequently, that also attracts the necessary visitors. Around 40,000 tourists a year now come to the nature park to spot bears. A modest tourist industry has even sprung up around the bears.
Beehives and apple trees looted
However, not everyone is happy about that. Some locals are taking advantage of the growing tourism. But the bears are getting closer and closer to civilisation. In some villages, beehives and apple trees are looted by bears at night. This mainly happens in the fall, when the bears collect energy for their hibernation. Other residents see their peace disturbed by the throngs of tourists. This weekend’s video will therefore not have reassured them. After all, this gives the nature park even more fame.
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According to experts, the motorists in the video reacted correctly by not getting out of the car. Bear cubs are constantly watched by their mother, even though she may not always be visible. Therefore, getting too close to the young can cause an unexpected reaction from the mother and thus danger.
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