Slow population expansion of the Cantabrian brown bear

The latest figures for female Cantabrian brown bears with cubs of the year (COY’s) have just been released giving 21 for 2007. This number has tripled since 1989. The 21 females have 39 cubs between them, growth being more obvious in the western population with 18 females having 34 cubs while in the east, 5 cubs were born to 3 females. Litter-size average has also increased, now standing at 2 cubs per female in the west and 1.8 in the east. According to José Félix García Gaona, the head of the Asturian Countryside and Biodiversity governmental department, these figures call for moderate optimism and he stresses the importance of the continued collaboration of the separate autonomous communities involved in the Plan for the Recuperation of the Cantabrian brown bear. Representing the Cantabrian government, Antonio Lucio said that the eastern population is still fragile although the presence of bears in out of the ordinary areas (such as the valleys of Liébana) is a clear indicator that the population’s decline has been stopped. The president of the Fundación Oso Pardo, Guillermo Palomero, urges caution however because even though the census is the highest for two decades, the Cantabrian brown bear is still a species threatened with extinction yet to overcome obstacles such as poison, traps and infant mortality.

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