The brown bear is one of the eight species of bears that exist in the word, however, along the last centuries, it has faced local extinctions that have diminished its populations, becoming a threatened animal in Europe.
He is a robust mammal that typically weighs 200 kilos, have thick and brown fur and can live to 25 years of age. In addition, he is able to rise up on his hind legs in order to disarm his victims by biting and holding on to the lower jaw to avoid being bitten in turn.
The brown bear is a solitary animal that moves with great ability. It is characterized for being a nomad, that is, he doesn´t sleep always in the same place, except when is hibernating during the winter. They have been recorded as inhabiting a broad variety of habitats, being forest and rocky areas the most common.
The brown bear is an omnivorous animal consuming great variety of food, from grass to meat. In summer and autumn time, he feeds on wild fruits, roots and other tubers that finds in the forest. However, his favorite food is the honey. Moreover, he eats small vertebrates, insects and, especially, salmons by trying to catch them in mid-air (often with their mouths).
Regarding reproduction, they are considered as the vertebrates with the lowest birth rate of the world and, hence, it is an animal to be preserved. The female reach the sexual maturity at the age 3 year and half or 5 years. The gestation last from 8 to 10 weeks. The average litter has one to four cubs, usually two. Cubs remain with their mother from two to four years.
At birth, the cubs are blind, toothless, hairless, and weigh less than 500 grams. When they go out on the outside, they are covered of fair showing a necklace of whitish hair peculiar of the young bears that disappears with the time.
In the past, the populations of brown bears in Spain was higher than it is today, inhabiting the Spanish mountains. However, the actual population is extremely low ranging from 60 to 80 individuals distributed in Galicia, Asturias and Castilla y León.
It is likely that humans caused extinction of bear populations and fragmentation of their habitats since prehistorical time: poaching, bear traps and the use of poison. Relocation of the bear has been used to separate the bear from the human environment, being the big forests of northern Spain the only viable habitat for them: the Cantabrian Mountain range and the Pyrenees.
The brown bear is, therefore, in danger of extinction. Actions to avoid its disappearance began in 1952, and thank to it, now it is considered as a protected mammal. The criminal punishment for killing a brown bear is a fine of 300.000 Euros.
The brown bear has turned into the emblem of Asturias thanks to Paca y Tola, two orphaned bears that were raised by the Fund for the Protection of Wild Animals (FAPAS). These two bears have turned into a symbol of fight for the protection of the Brown Bear in Spain.