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HUNTING

Spanish conservationists lament ‘dark day’ as two brown bears shot by hunters

Two of Spain’s protected brown bears have been shot dead by hunters in separate incidents during wild boar hunts on Sunday, striking a blow to a conservation programme that has seen the population grow from near extinction.

Spanish conservationists lament 'dark day' as two brown bears shot by hunters
The bear Sarousse pictured here was shot dead by a boar hunter.

One adult female bear was shot dead by accident after reportedly being mistaken for a wild boar by a hunter in a conservation zone in the Palentina mountains near the town of Ventanilla in Castilla y Leon on Sunday lunchtime.

Another female bear, known as Sarousse, was killed apparently in self-defence by a hunter who disturbed the animal while hunting for wild boar in the Bardaji valley in the Robagorza region of the Spanish Pyrenees.  

The hunter responsible told police that he had no choice but to shoot the bear as it approached him in an “aggressive manner” when it was disturbed by dogs flushing out boar during the hunt.

Sarousse was a 21-year-old bear that had been captured in Slovenia and re-released into the wild on the French side of the Pyrenees in 2006 in a conservation programme aimed at boosting a population that was facing extinction.

Since 2010 she had established a territory on the Spanish side of the mountain range but was described by one local newspaper in Aragon, El Heraldo, as “a lonely bear who unfortunately was of little use to the bear population as she bore no cubs and lived an isolated life in the Turbón massif, far from other concentrations of bear popultions in the region”.

She is thought to have been responsible for frequent raids on local farms where she killed at least four sheep this year and raided at least ten beehives, the newspaper reported. 

Investigations into both deaths have been opened by Se`rona, the wildlife unit of the Guardia Civil.

The deaths raised questions over the issuing of hunting licences within conservation habitats which are known to be home to the endangered species.

A tweet from the Oso Pardo Foundation lamented that it was “a dark day” for the conservation of the  Brown Bears which in 2019 were thought to numberaround 330 bears in the Cantabrian Mountains and more than 50 in the Pyrenees.

 

Two other brown bears have been killed this year. the cadavre of one male named Cachou was found at the bottom of a cliff in the Aran valley in Catalonia, and a man was arrested earlier in November after an investigation determined that the animal had in fact been poisoned.

While in France in June, the body of a bear that had been shot was discovered in Ariège. 

But on a happy note, six new litters were recorded this spring with a total of 12 bear cubs. 

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ENVIRONMENT

Spain’s Alicante aims to limit hiking and ban outdoor sports in iconic nature spots

Environmental authorities in the Spanish region of Valencia want to limit hiking and ban rockclimbing and canyoning in popular retreats in Alicante, Valencia and Castellón provinces to preserve these natural habitats and their local species.

Hiking in Valencia might be banned.
Barranc de l'Infern in Alicante province. Photo: Diana TV/Flickr

The Valencian region’s Climate Emergency Department is planning to establish several Special Conservation Zones in popular natural spots in the eastern region, where climbing and canyoning will be prohibited and hiking will be limited.

If the new rule comes into force, it will affect a large portion of the province of Alicante, including popular retreats in nature such as the Barranc de l’Infern river and its hiking route, Puigcampana and Ponoig, one of the best-known climbing spots in the region.

So far, the project is just a proposal, but it has already angered mountain-sport lovers and businesses throughout the region. 

Canyoning and climbing are considered “incompatible” practices with the preservation of natural habitats, according to the first draft of the new decree.

As well as banning these two popular sports, the new rule proposes that hiking in groups of more than 30 people will have to undergo prior evaluation.

Hiking in Puigcampana, Valencia. Image: NH53 / Flickr

The objective of the Department of Climatic Emergency is to extend this new rule and the creation of the ZECs to all the natural spaces included in the Natura 2000 Network within the Valencian Community.

The regulations of the European Union on these sites imply that they must guarantee the preservation of species of fauna and flora. 

For example, in the Special Conservation Zone (known as a ZEC) de la Marina, the decree states that species such as otter, river crab and Cobitis paludica fish will be protected, while the mountains in the centre of Alicante, it’s Bonelli’s eagle, the trumpeter bullfinch and the eagle owl, which must be protected. 

However, according to sources of Las Provincias news site, the European legislation does not prohibit climbing, canyoning and hiking from being carried out within them.

The new proposal has taken many groups by surprise as they were not told of the new proposal beforehand, and are unaware of what the economic and social implications will be.

The President of the Federation of Sports in the Mountains and Climbing in the Community (Muntanya i Escalada de la Comunitat) Carlos Ferrís, pointed out that “the preservation of the environment does not have to be incompatible with these sports” and said that the limitations are not justified by any scientific report.

Hiking in Ponoig, Valencia. Image: Lisa Risager / Flickr

Pedro Carrasco, manager of CV Activa, an association that brings together companies who target active tourism agreed, when he told Las Provincias: “They would have to do a detailed study of each and every place to assess the conditions. It cannot be based on intuition alone”.

These rural tourism businesses do however agree that there can be some limitations on the practice of these sports, but that they shouldn’t be prohibited year round.

READ ALSO: REVEALED: The most picturesque day trips in Spain’s Alicante province

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