Trubia

Valley of the Bears

June 7th, 2008

According to Fapas, the Trubia valley in Asturias is seeing a slow but sure increase of reproductive female Cantabrian brown bears, the species having almost disappeared completely from this area. In 2004 one female of breeding age was detected. Of the sixteen individual bears identified here in 2007, two were females with cubs. In the next few months it is hoped to confirm the existence of either two or three females that could have produced cubs this year, the first having been photographed this spring by Fapas with her one cub. If  their expansion continues at this rate, it is hoped that by 2010 the optimum number of ten breeding females will have been reached leading Fapas to comment that the name of the Trubia valley should be given plural status, Valle de los Osos. The conservation organisation sees this as the first important step towards the subsequent joining together of the two separate Cantabrian brown bear populations, dispersal among Brown bears as a species being a slow process due to the philopatry exhibited by female cubs who choose territory close to their mother’s when they reach reproductive age themselves.

First female Cantabrian brown bear with cub in Trubia, 2008

See the Cantabrian brown bear topic at Iberianature forum.

Sixteen bears in Trubia valley

March 10th, 2008

Bears trashing hives in the Valle del Trubia (Fapas)

The number of bears identified in the Trubia valley in Asturias, from Quirós towards Oviedo, has doubled from eight in 2006 to sixteen in 2007. At least three breeding females have been identified who appear to be having few problems raising their cubs, leading to a lower infant mortality rate in this area than in other parts of the Cantabrian mountain chain. An abundance of food in the lower wooded valleys for these opportunistic animals, combined with recent mild winters, have contributed to this success. From Fapas.

(More wild neighbours for the semi-captive female Cantabrian brown bears in the same valley, Paca and Tola, who are presently awaiting a suitor in their new enclosure in Proaza in a plan to test their fertility with a captive male European brown bear from the Cabárceno safari park in neighbouring Cantabria previous to finding a suitable wild, male Cantabrian brown bear.)

By Lisa

Paca and Tola

November 23rd, 2007

Paca and Tola are two female bears which were orphaned 1989, at the age of four months when a hunter killed their mother and took the two cubs. The cubs were rescued by Fapas and Seprona after a tip-off and now live in semi-captivity in a large mountainside enclosure. Now they are to be mothers.

Photo of Tola and additional research by Lisa of picos-accommodation

The Fundación Oso de Asturias plan to mate them with a another male bear used to captivity in spring 2008, when they come into heat after hibernation. (LNE) The problem is that there is currently no captive male Cantabrian bear, so a bear from another “group” is probably to be used. I use the term “group” as the extistence of Ursus arctos Cantabricus as a separate sub-species is under debate.

The two bears live in a 5000m2 mountainside enclosure and have become a popular tourist attraction and have played a very important role in raising environmental awareness about bears in Asturias. Watch them here . There are references to bears almost every week in the local press and people love talking about them. One has the impression that bears in general and Paca and Tola specifically are quasi-nationalist symbols in Asturias, and much loved…unlike wolves.

Most of the time you can’t see them as their hidden in the rocks, scrub and trees, but they come down at 12:00 am every day to eat. I saw both Paca and Tola taking a bath this August as we all watched on, sweltering outside their enclosuse. The enclosure is in the beautiful Concejo de Trubia. Paca at the end of an excellent cycle path which runs along an old mining railtrack, known as La Senda del Oso. The path (or rather network of paths) runs through tunnels, across bridges and through a spectacular gorge. Reasonably-priced cycle hire is available at each end. They’ve also got cycle with back seats for little kids which is what we used. More here

Read the forum thread on Paca and Tola here