Bear numbers on the up


The Iberian brown bear population continues to rise.

The latest figures – released by the four regions in Spain which are home to these unique animals – estimate that there are now around 370 of them in the wild.

This is a rise of around 40 from the previous count and a far cry from the situation at the end of the 1980s when the Iberian bear had almost been driven to extinction, with the population falling to just 90.

Since then there has been a herculean conservation effort to save this iconic animal, starting with the Asturias regional government and aided by the work of associations such as Spain’s
brown bear foundation – the Fundación Oso Pardo (FOP).

The Iberian brown bear is a unique species – smaller than the European brown bear which lives in countries in the north and east of the continent.

The latest figures were collated in a study carried out between August and December in 2020, which have only just been published.

With the number of cubs being born each year also increasing, it is possible that the current number in 2023 could be around 400.

The FOP noted that the information was collated in the regions of Asturias, Cantabria, Galicia and Castilla y León, where the bears live in mountainous areas.

The study was coordinated by the ministry for the ecological transition. Once completed, the laborious task of the ‘genetic analysis’ of 1,288 samples taken during the five-month survey got underway – these were 936 pieces of excrement and 352 examples of hair.

This was not completed until the end of 2022.

Full report in Friday’s Costa Blanca News

Read more in this week’s print edition or go to e-paper


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