Success of brown bear in Spain draws international attention

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brown bears in Spain

An estimated 400 brown bears still live in Spain. They are mainly located in the northwestern regions of Castilla y León, western Asturias, southern Cantabria and the Pyrenees. The ‘oso pardo’, Iberian bear, was almost extinct.

The disappearance of their habitat and hunting almost killed the bears. Consequently, they have been protected since 1993. The species’ successful conservation program has now attracted international attention. The Reuters news agency recently published an extensive report on the efforts of the government of Castilla y León. These are aimed at promoting coexistence between the brown bear and human activities.

Also read: Good news about the brown bear in Spain

However, coexistence between humans and bears does not always go well. If a bear weighing a few hundred kilos walks into a small mountain village, it can cause frightening situations. Older people no longer dare to take a walk or leave their house in the evening. That is why the Bear Patrol was created. If residents see a bear, they can call it 24 hours a day. The team, consisting of specialists, veterinarians and forest rangers, then tries to deter the animals and chase them from civilisation. This is done via a strict protocol aimed at conditioning the animals so that they do not return.

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Three years of commitment

Reuters has taken three years to document in detail the dedication and hard work of various professionals within the Junta de Castilla y Leon. The program includes technicians, veterinarians, environmental officers, forest rangers, and the Bear Patrols of the Junta’s Natural Heritage Foundation. Together, these people are committed to the development of the progressive program that started in 2021.

Innovative measures

The program includes capturing the brown bear when it is close to civilisation. The animal is then provided with radio markings. This way, his movements can be monitored and immediate action can be taken if he moves towards a built-up area. The technicians also apply negative conditioning to prevent the bears from becoming accustomed to human environments. So far, 15 different bears have been fitted with GPS transmitters.

Education and awareness

The Reuters documentary also highlights the important role of education and awareness programs in this regard. Visitors are informed about the habitat and behaviour of the brown bear through a permanent exhibition ‘Zona Oso’ in the nature park ‘Montaña Palentina’.​

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