León (EFE).- The brown bear populations in the north of the peninsula have experienced a notable improvement in recent years and add up to 370 specimens in the Cantabrian Mountains, and although the species has passed the critical moment it suffered in the decade of the 80s of the last century is still in danger of extinction.
This was revealed on Tuesday by the General Director of Natural Heritage and Forest Policy of the Junta de Castilla y León, José Ángel Arranz, who offered a press conference in León together with his counterparts from Asturias, Galicia and Cantabria, David Villar, Belén Do Campo and Antonio Lucio, respectively, to report on the study of the brown bear population.
This is a study carried out by the four communities with the support of the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge and the Institute for Research in Hunting Resources.
Arranz has specified that of the 370 specimens that are estimated to have the Cantabrian mountain range as their habitat, 250 belong to the western subpopulation, in the territory of Galicia, Asturias and part of the province of León, and the remaining 120 to the eastern one, which settles in the other part of the province of León, Palencia and Cantabria.
Brown bear by CCAA
He has added that, by communities, Castilla y León would house 53% of the population, with an approximate calculation of 197 specimens (108 in the west of Leon and 89 in the east of this province and the mountains of Palencia); Asturias 35%, with 131 specimens in the western nucleus; Cantabria 8% with specimens in the eastern population, and Galicia the remaining 3% corresponding to 11 specimens.
By sex, it is estimated that 56% of the bear population in the Cantabrian mountains are males and the remaining 47% are females.
Based on these data, the General Director of Natural Heritage and Forest Policy of the Junta de Castilla y León has highlighted as the most notable evidence the consolidation of the western subpopulation, with two thirds of the total population, which has allowed its expansion to the provinces of Lugo and Ourense, as well as the northern zone of Zamora.
“The result found in the eastern subpopulation is an even more satisfactory result since the species was on the verge of disappearing in this territory just 30 or 40 years ago and the latest estimates did not exceed fifty specimens,” Arranz has assessed.
Looking to the future and to influence the recovery of the species, he stressed that “it is essential to continue working actively and in coordination in favor of the coexistence of the bear with human activities through adequate compensation for the damage caused by the species, in special importance in relation to its approximation to urban environments».
Arranz explained that the methodology used to carry out this study is based on genetic techniques and for this, tissue samples (excrement and hair) have been made throughout the entire territory tracked, a total of 16,700 square kilometers (10,656 in the western subpopulation and 6,044 in the eastern one), and a total of 1,288 non-invasive samples have been collected (936 droppings and 353 hair samples).
The general director of Biodiversity, Environment and Climate Change of Cantabria has valued the results of the stadium, especially for the recovery of the eastern subpopulation and has highlighted the “coordination” and “common work” developed by the four communities.
Lucio has also highlighted the work of the field staff, has insisted that, despite the “magnificent” data, the species is still in danger of extinction, and has remarked that the results encourage us to continue working in a coordinated manner to face new challenges that allow progress in the conservation of the species.
Key to the rural environment
For his part, the Director General of Natural Environment of the Principality of Asturias has added that the results consolidate the recovery of an emblematic species and has opted to make the bear “a way of life for people who carry out their activity in rural areas”. .
“I want to break a spear in favor of the administrations for that neutral, disinterested and rigorous work that accounts for the excellent technicians and scientists they have,” added Villar.
Finally, the Director General of the Environment, Territory and Housing of the Xunta de Galicia has elaborated that, in view of these data, it is necessary to continue working actively and in a coordinated manner in favor of the coexistence of the brown bear with human activities. through the adequate compensation of the damages caused by this species in the agricultural and livestock sector, especially in beekeeping activities.
Do Campo recalled that the Galician Government called for aid last December to alleviate the damage caused between October 1, 2022 and September 30, 2023 for an amount of 60,000 euros, in which it is the third call for this line of aid that gives continuity to those of 2021 and 2022, which resulted in 42 accepted applications. EFE