Vall d’Arán

Bears spotted close to Pyrenean tourist area

July 2nd, 2010 Foto de la Noticia Three bears have been spotted by wildlife photographer Oriol Alemany close to a tourist area in the Vall d’Aran. The two sub-adults and one adult are almost certainly Hvala and her offspring Nhèu’ y ‘Noisette’. The animals are being tracked to reduce the risk of tourists disturbing them. Here

Bears attracting tourists to Vall d’Aran

June 2nd, 2009

Despite all the overblown furore over the bear hunter attack in the Vall d’Aran, the occassional presence of bears is attracting increasing numbers of tourists to the valley.

Read (La Mañana)
Hvala the bear

And according to Fundación Oso Pardo president Guillermo Palomero bears are no more aggressive than wild boars.
Read (also La Mañana)

Pyrenean bear with cubs

May 6th, 2009

Hvala, the bear at the centre of the furore last autumn after biting a hunter, has been photographed with two cubs by wardens from the Vall d’Aran. Another bear, Sarousse, which was also released in 2006, may also have cubs, and if so could spell the beginning of a rise in the Pyrenean population.

Hvala awakes

April 5th, 2009

Hvala, the bear who bit a hunter last year in the Vall d’Arán, has woken from her winter slumber. She was probably pregnant when she went into hibernation and the biologists monitoring her suspect she may have a cub or two, as she is staying in the same area (Bossòst, Vall d’Arán). Let us hope she is left in peace to raise them.
El Periodico

Catalan government to monitor bears more closely

October 29th, 2008

Following the hysteria surrounding a hunter who was bitten by a bear last week (full story here on iberianature), the Catalan government has decided to study bears in the Pyrenees more closely and are to set up a new group to monitor the bears in the Aran valley to avoid any similar incidences in the future. Fapas have commented and point out that while this is the first incident of its kind in the Pyrenees, hunters are far more likely to suffer injuries (and death) at the hands of other hunters (20 hunters are killed by other hunters a year in Spain.) The bear in question Hvala is currently in France and so is safe for the time being from the attempts by the Aranese authorities to capture her. Ecological organisations are threatening legal action should they be successful. El Mundo

The images above (El Mundo) are the first of Hvala since the incident took place.

Hunter injured by bear

October 27th, 2008

Update 27/10/2008. It is clear that this story has been blown out of all proportion to the facts and the risks involved. A man received slight injuries to his foot, and the result is the call for the removal of all bears from the Pyrenees. How many slight injuries to feet are sustained every day in the Pyrenees due to a whole host of reasons? Skiing accident. Let’s ban skiing. Iron falling on your foot. Let’s ban ironing. Children playing in the park. Let’s ban playing.

Thankfully the Catalan authorities are seeing sense in this matter and are refusing to listen to the yuppie owners of Vall d’Aran. As Simon on the forum points out the Catalan Minsitry of the Environment should no more take into account the opinions of hotel owners than these should listen to the former’s advice on how to make beds. For me, the underlying problem is the ridiculous amount of local automony and respect afforded to a small area, just because they happen to speak a different language. The Aranese have powers in the environment, while the next valley along which doesn’t happen to speak a different language, doesn’t. This means that they can I think, in effect, legally remove the bear in question. These small number of persons, in many cases greedily linked to the skiing and hotel industry, are going against what by all accounts are the wishes of the majority of people in Catalonia who want to maintain the bear reintroduction programme. It’s a mockery of democracy.

Update 26/10/2008. The Aranese authorities are now searching for the bear Hvala with the objective of shooting it with tranquillising darts and removing it from the wild. They claim this is to avoid a “generalised vendetta” against all bears in the area (El Periodico) Meanwhile, the ecological organisation Depana while lamenting the injuries to the man, lay the blame at poorly organised boar hunts, and note that bears and boar hunting are perfectly compatible when managed properly, citing the example of the Cordillera Cantábrica.

Original story. Bad news for bears in the Pyrenees. A boar hunter in the Vall d’Aran was bitten today by a bear and has suffered minor injuries to his foot and hand. Although this is the first time a human has been attacked by a bear in the Pyrenees since the reintroduction programme began in 1996, it has led to calls from the Aranese government for the removal of all bears from the range, claiming that the “bear reintroduction experiment has failed”. One suspects that the Aranese authorities have been looking any excuse to stop the programme. So far the Catalan government has called for calm. The bear in question is “called” Hvala, the same bear which was filmed last month. New Vote No to reconsidering the reintroduction programme at La Vanguardia below.

Catalan bears on video

October 2nd, 2008

The Aranese authorities have captured some excellent images of the bear Hvala with her 19-month old cub. It is unsual for a “cub” (no longer so small) to stay with its mother for so long.

Adapting to bears in the Aran Valley

September 3rd, 2008

It seems that farmers are beginning to adapt to living with bears in the Vall d’Aran, Catalonia. The number of sheep killed by bears has been cut drastically (10 compared to 18 last year) by the simple solution of grouping herds together and hiring a shepherd to look after them. The 10 dead sheep belong to herders who haven’t joined the new scheme. The next problem on the agenda is how to protect beehives. Adapted from Lucy’s post on the forum. El Periódico

Bear eating roe deer

July 14th, 2008

Check out this short but rather good video of Hvala tucking into a roe deer corpse, left in front of a bear cam by the Vall d’Arán authorities. Hvala was one of the bears released into the Pyrenees from Slovenia six years ago.  The Vall d’Arán have contracted the services of a shepherd this year to gather together and protect the flocks of sheep of 17 farmers.

Brown bear population in the Pyrenees

May 18th, 2008

oso pardo Photo El País

Another update on brown bears in the Pyrenees. The population of bears in the range has “stabilised” at 20 individuals, of which only two (old) males and one cub belong to the autocthonous “group of Pyrenean bears. The remaining bears are those introduced from Eastern Europe in 1996, 1997 and 2006, or are cubs of these animals.

In Catalonia, in the last year at least 12 bears have been recorded passing some time here, and as some of these are now cubs, we can now begin to talk about a second generation growing up since the reintroductions began. A sign of the increased activity of bears is the first recording of a bear In the Vall d’Arán for a number of years. Watch the video of a female bear being followed by a male here. Both have recently awoken from hibernation.

The latest DNA evidence suggests that the genetic difference between Spanish bears and those from the rest of Europe is small, and therefore there should be no reason to oppose transfers from other areas on biological grounds. See Wikipedia for more on links on this. In 2007, brown bears in the Catalan Pyrenees killed 20 sheep, 1 cow and 1 horse, which the Catalan Government compensated to a tune of 6,640 euros. A small price to pay. See

See also Pyrenean bear news