The brown bear, Ursus arctos, is considered a “priority species” and a “species of community interest in need of strict protection“ by the European Community Habitat Directive (Annexes II and IV). As a result of this, almost the whole area where they live has been covered by the EU’s “Natura 2000”.
In Spain, they have been protected since 1973 and also included on the Spanish Catalogue of Endangered Species, at “endangered category”, which forces the autonomous communities to create Recovery Plans. Furthermore, the Spanish Government has developed the Strategies to recover the Cantabrian and Pyrenean brown bear in Spain.
– The splitting of the Cantabrian brown bear population into two different isolated subpopulations with a low rate of genetic variability and a small number of bears in each, specially in the eastern one.
– Anthropogenic mortality by poisoning, shooting and snare wires, specially in the western subpopulation, which cripples or kills these animals.
– Habitat loss caused by different reasons, mainly due to economical activities, infrastructures development or land uses.
If you want to know more about female Cantabrian bears and their cubs clik in this link to a pdf extract of the FOP book «Female Bears. The behaviour of female bears and their cubs in the Cantabrian Mountains».
In the Pyrenees, bears are recovering slowly after a release of Slovenian bears developed in France (two females and one male in 1996-1997 and four females and one male in 2006). The last indigenous, reproductive female in the Pyrenees, Canelle, was shot by a hunter in 2004. Nowadays there are about 25 bears in both slopes of the Pyrenees and each year two o three females with cubs of the year are been seen in the monitoring program.