Project LIFE Human Bear Coex

LIFE HUMAN BEAR COEX – “Prevention and mitigation of conflicts in villages and their surroundings to favour coexistence between humans and bears in the higher bear density municipalities of the Cantabrian Mountains (Spain)” – Proyecto 101113624 – LIFE22-NAT-ES-LIFE
 
Coordinated by the Brown Bear Foundation (FOP) from july 2023 to december 2027, nine municipalities which host the highest density of brown bears in Spain are Project partners – Somiedo, Belmonte de Miranda, Cangas del Narcea, Ibias, Degaña and Proaza, in Asturias, and Villablino, Páramo del Sil and Palacios del Sil, in Leon. The regional governments of Principado de Asturias and Castilla y León support the Project as Associates. Fundacion Oso de Asturias and Fundacion Patrimonio Natural de Castilla y León act as third-parties with in-kind contribution.

Cantabrian bears in urban environments

The Cantabrian bear population is experiencing a hopeful comeback that is allowing its territorial expansion, although the species is still endangered and has not reached a Favourable Conservation Status (FCS). However, this increase in bear numbers, together with the behavioural ecology of the species, the end of human prosecution and the social changes that have taken place in recent decades in rural areas, are associated with an increase in human-bear interactions. One of the most worrying conflicts is the presence of bears within or in close proximity to human settlements and their habituation to the presence of people, or conditioning to anthropogenic food sources such as rubbish. The number of such events increases every year, generating a social alarm that jeopardises the positive attitude towards bears of the inhabitants of these mountains.

Project objectives and actions

The overall objective of the project is to prevent and mitigate current and future human- bear conflicts in villages and other human settlements and their immediate surroundings in the Cantabrian Mountains, due to the positive trend in bear population and changes in human uses and activities in mountain areas.

  • A. Project management and the coordination of activities

    A.1. Project coordination, territorial management committees and progress reports.

    A.2. Project financial management.

    A.3. Preparatory training for the beneficiaries.

    B. Prevention of conflicts with bears in human settlements and their surroundings

    B.1. Creation and training of local conflict prevention teams.

    B.2. Maintenance and cleaning of the security perimeter around settlements and the paths between or close to these, to reduce their accessibility by bears and improve detection, avoiding contact between bears and people.

    B.3. Dissuasive planting of fruit stands (cherries and plums) well away from human settlements.

    B.4. Creation of a local information channel on the presence of bears in human settlements.

    C. Management and mitigation of conflicts with bears in human settlements and their surroundings

    C.1. Protection of domestic animal installations or other points of attraction in human settlements and their surroundings.

    C.2. Pilot test of bear-proof garbage containers.

    C.3. Pilot test of bear detector-repellent devices in fruit trees or other points of attraction in human settlements.

    C.4. Information, monitoring early warning of bear conflicts in human settlements.

    C.5. Radio-tracking of bears involved in problems or conflicts in human settlements and their surroundings (in Asturias).

    D. Information dissemination and communication

    D.1. Project website and social media networks.

    D.2. Project information material.

    D.3. Project information material.Information campaign for the local inhabitants, local retail establishments and social actors regarding good waste disposal practices, the elimination of attractants, management of problem bears and an environmental educational campaign for local schools.

    D.4. Activities with local, regional and national media.

    D.5. Support for socioeconomic development and entrepreneurship in the municipalities linked to and with a positive image of the brown bear.

    D.6. Networking with other projects and visits to other areas with similar situations.

    E. Monitoring and evaluation

    E.1. Initial and final evaluations of the social perception of the presence of brown bears in the surroundings of human settlements and the effectiveness of the project’s actions.

    E.2. Monitoring of the activities for the prevention of bear conflicts in human settlements.

    E.3. Monitoring of cases of problem bears in human settlements, mitigation measures and their results.

    E.4. Monitoring of the information, dissemination and communication activities.

    E.5. Monitoring and production of the Key Performance Indicators (KPI) report.

    F. Sustainability, replication and utilisation of the project results

    F.1. Sustainability of the actions: After-LIFE Conservation Plan

    F.2. Proposal for replication in other municipalities of the Cantabrian mountains

    F.3. Proposal for replication in other municipalities of the Cantabrian mountains

    • Proposal for replication in other municipalities of the Cantabrian mountains.
    • Manage and mitigate ongoing conflicts with bears in human settlements and their surroundings through protection of attractants, testing of innovative methods, and monitoring and early warning of bear-human conflicts.
    • Informing and raising awareness among neighbours and local stakeholders on the prevention of conflicts with bears in human settlements, establishing and applying good practices for garbage management, promoting the role of municipalities and reducing social alarm to achieve a good coexistence between bears and humans.
    • Creation of 2 territorial management committees providing advice and coordination.
    • Training of 40 specialists, workers and leaders of the project’s municipalities in the
      prevention and mitigation of bear-human conflicts in human settlements.
    • Creation and training of 3 prevention teams formed of local people (3 in each team), contracted and trained in the prevention of human-bear conflicts and equipped with vehicles and tools for their work.
    • Vegetation clearance, cleaning and maintenance of security perimeters around at least 120 villages and other human settlements with either risk or prior occurrence of conflicts with bears.
    • Cleaning and maintenance of at least 100 paths between or close to settlements with either risk or prior occurrence of conflicts with bears.
    • Planting and maintenance of 50,000 fruit trees (principally cherries and plums) in 250 dissuasory fruit tree stands with an average size of 0.4 ha, located well away from human settlements.
    • Detection and clearance of some 30 illegal rubbish dumps and other attractive elements.
    • Establishment of an information channel of the town councils with local residents about the presence of bears in human settlements.
    • Creation of 2 teams for the management of conflicts, comprised of 2 experienced people per team and equipped with vehicles and work tools.
    • Protection of domestic animal installations in or surrounding human settlements through the use of 200 electric fences or other appropriate protection measures.
    • Installation of 45 bear-proof garbage containers and 45 bear-proof bin covers for the development of pilot projects in the project’s municipalities.
    • Installation of 90 bear detector-repellent devices activated by movement sensors in fruit tree orchards, at rubbish bins or other other points of attraction in human settlements and a pilot study of their functioning and efficiency.
    • Information gathering, monitoring and establishment of early warning alerts in an
      estimated 160 cases of conflictive presence of bears in human settlements.
    • Radio-tracking and monitoring of around 10 bears involved in problems or conflicts in human settlements in Asturias.
    • Distribution of the information content in 1 web page and over 96 publications in social media networks.
    • Creation and distribution of informative materials (1 presentation leaflet, 1 informative notebook, 1 animated video about garbage disposal in rural areas, 1 environmental education animated video, 3 roll-up panels, 2 special bulletins).
    • Development of an information campaign with over 160 encounters, fairs and talks to locals, businesses and the area’s stakeholders, to provide recommendations on how to prevent conflicts with bears in human settlements.
    • Environmental education campaign in rural schools in the project’s municipalities.
    • Publication of at least 40 news items/press releases and the production of 8 information material inserts for the local and regional media.
    • Contacts and exchange visits with at least 5 projects with similar or complementary objectives and approaches.
    • Initial and final surveys of the social perception of the presence of brown bears in the surroundings of human settlements.
    • Monitoring of problem bears in human settlements, monitoring of the efficiency of preventative and mitigation measures and other activities undertaken by the project.
    • After-LIFE Conservation Plan, including an analysis of the economic viability of the continuation of the preventative measures.
    • Replicability proposal and 12 local meetings for the presentation and diffusion of the lessons learned in the municipalities of the Cantabrian Mountains.

Area of action

The LIFE Human Bear COEX is being developed from july 2023 to december 2027 in the western Cantabrian mountains, in the municipalities which host the highest density of brown bears in Spain: Somiedo, Belmonte de Miranda, Proaza, Cangas del Narcea, Degaña and Ibias (Asturias) and in Villablino, Palacios del Sil and Páramo del Sil (Leon).

The communication campaign on the prevention of conflicts with bears in villages and their surroundings reaches the entire distribution area of the Cantabrian brown bear.

LIFE in action

Documentation

This website has been made with the contribution of the LIFE Programme of the European Union.
The information included in this website reflects only the view of the LIFE Bears with future beneficiaries. Neither the European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA) nor the European Commission are responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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