First brown bear for 150 years seen in national park in northern Spain

A brown bear has been spotted traversing a rugged and sparsely populated area of north-west Spain for the first time in 150 years thanks to a set of camera traps and a bit of luck.

Images of the animal were captured on cameras set up by a crew shooting the film Montana ou Morte (Mountain or Death) in the Invernadeiro national park in Galicia’s Ourense province.

Although the area is home to wolves, deer and wild boars, this is believed to be the first time a brown bear has been seen in more than a century.

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“The bear, a male aged between three and five, is the first to be filmed in the area and probably the first to have crossed through the region in the past 150 years,” the production company Zeitun Films said in a statement.

According to two local wildlife rangers who are serving as advisers on the film, the bear spent the entire winter in the park – probably after making its way south from the Sierra del Caurel mountains.

Ricardo Prieto Rochas and Tomas Perez Hernandez said the animal’s time in the park showed the region could play home to others of its species.

“Years of conservation work in the Invernadeiro national park have allowed it to become a suitable habitat for the brown bear,” the statement added.

The brown bear is a male and thought to be between the age of three and five.

Brown bears have been a protected species in Spain since 1973. In an effort to consolidate the bear population in the Pyrenees between France and Spain, brown bears from Slovenia have been introduced over the past two decades.

One of the bears – known as Goiat, which means “lad” in the local dialect – has enraged farmers in north-west Catalonia by preying on their horses, sheep and goats, and demolishing beehives.

Goiat is also thought to be responsible for a string of recent attacks on sheep in the neighbouring region of Aragon, bolstering calls for him to be removed from the area.


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