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ENVIRONMENT

VIDEO: Spain searches for wounded bear and cub after brutal attack and fall

Spanish authorities are trying to find a brown bear and her cub which were separated after a brutal attack by a male bear that was caught on camera by two onlookers.

VIDEO: Spain searches for wounded bear and cub after brutal attack and fall
What does it mean when an Austrian says "to tie a bear on someone"? (Stotck Photo by UWE ZUCCHI / DPA / AFP)

The assault took place on a rocky mountainside in the northern Castilla y León region.

Although the mother bear managed to fight off her assailant, she was wounded and separated from her cub, footage released late on Tuesday showed.

“We know that the mother bear is wounded and we don’t know anything else, the investigation is still open,” a source in the regional environment ministry told AFP.

In the footage, which runs for two-and-a-half minutes, the two adult bears fight for about 40 seconds before falling over the edge and crashing down the rocky hillside.

The male bear, which was much larger than the female, died of injuries sustained in the fall, officials said, while the injured mother eventually got up and tried to find her cub, although it was not immediately clear whether they were reunited.

In a post on Twitter, the regional environment ministry said during the current season “mother bears often have to defend their cubs from attack by adult males”.

During mating season, male bears often enter a frenzy of lust-fuelled cub killing with the aim of triggering oestrus — a period of sexual receptivity — in females who would otherwise only come on heat after raising their cubs to independence.

The behaviour is called sexually selected infanticide, and has also been observed in birds, bats, primates and big cats.

The mother “which was seen with two cubs several weeks ago, had already lost one of them, presumably after being attacked by this male or another,” the ministry said.

Among the team searching for the wounded mother bear and her cub were vets, environmental wardens, bear conservation specialists and members of the Guardia Civil police.

“As happens with other animals, male bears have have an instinct to kill cubs with the aim of mating again. They look for female bears with cubs that they can kill,” the head of the Brown Bear Foundation Guillermo Palomero told AFP.

“The female enters an oestrus period two or three days after (the cub has been killed) so the male bear can copulate with her,” he said, describing such attacks as “very violent”.

According to the foundation, 330 brown bears roam the Cantabrian mountains and another 70 are in the Pyrenees on the border between Spain and France.

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WILDFIRES

Europe facing record year for wildfire destruction: EU

Europe's blistering summer may not be over yet, but 2022 is already breaking records, with nearly 660,000 hectares ravaged since January, according to the EU's satellite monitoring service.

Europe facing record year for wildfire destruction: EU

And while countries on the Mediterranean have normally been the main seats of fires in Europe, this year, other countries are also suffering heavily.

Fires this year have forced people to flee their homes, destroyed buildings and burned forests in EU countries, including Austria, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

Some 659,541 hectares (1.6 million acres) have been destroyed so far, data from the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) showed, setting a record at this point in the year since data collection began in 2006.

Europe has suffered a series of heatwaves, forest fires and historic drought that experts say are being driven by human-induced climate change.

They warn more frequent and longer heatwaves are on the way.

The worst-affected country has been Spain, where fire has destroyed 244,924 hectares, according to EFFIS data.

The EFFIS uses satellite data from the EU’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS).

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How the climate crisis is hitting Europe hard

The data comes after CAMS said Friday that 2022 was a record year for wildfire activity in southwestern Europe and warned that a large proportion of western Europe was now in “extreme fire danger”.

“2022 is already a record year, just below 2017,” EFFIS coordinator Jesus San-Miguel said. In 2017, 420,913 hectares had burned by August 13, rising to 988,087 hectares by the end of the year.

“The situation in terms of drought and extremely high temperatures has affected all of Europe this year and the overall situation in the region is worrying, while we are still in the middle of the fire season,” he said.

Since 2010, there had been a trend towards more fires in central and northern Europe, with fires in countries that “normally do not experience fires in their territory”, he added.

“The overall fire season in the EU is really driven mainly by countries in the Mediterranean region, except in years like this one, in which fires also happen in central and northern regions,” he added.

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