More environmental informants in Asturias due to risk of encounters with bears

06/25/2021 at 8:04 AM CEST

The increase in the population of bears in Asturias and the possibility of fortuitous encounters with human beings has led the Fundación Oso de Asturias (FOA) to strengthen its field work to monitor the species, as well as information work on best practices for a safe coexistence in bone areas. For it, will reinforce this summer the number of vehicles and environmental informants in the Somiedo, Las Ubiñas-La Mesa and Valles del Oso natural parks, and occasionally in other areas where there may be signs of the presence of plantigrades.

The FOA highlights that the coexistence between humans and bears has become very topical as a result of the incident in May in the municipality of Cangas del Narcea, where a woman was seriously injured when she encountered a bear while walking.

The FOA Board of Trustees has endorsed the considerations that its scientific committee has drawn up as a result of this incident, considering that it indicates “useful guidelines and lines of work appropriate to the current circumstances & rdquor ;.

The FOA scientific committee has prepared a report with six points in relation to the incident recorded in Cangas del Narcea.

In the first place, the scientific committee, and by extension the FOA, hopes and wishes “the speedy recovery of the injured woman & rdquor ;, who is already discharged and at home.

Second, in the face of incidents such as the one that occurred in Cangas del Narcea, the scientific committee calls the “Prudence of all institutions and entities with social responsibility when assessing the facts & rdquor;. Because “without adequate information about what happened, a hasty interpretation can contribute to generating unease and confusion & rdquor ;, he points out.

The committee also highlights that the “profuse and improper use & rdquor; of terms like “humanized bear & rdquor ;,” aggressive action & rdquor ;, “habituated bear & rdquor ;,” dangerous bear & rdquor; u “troublesome bear & rdquor; construct and prejudge an account of what happened that “does not help the knowledge of the circumstances and the understanding by society of the causes of these incidents & rdquor ;.

The one in Cangas del Narcea was a “fortuitous encounter & rdquor ;, not an attack

“Even the term ‘attack’, which has been present in practically all the news headlines and communiqués, has an offensive and ‘proactive’ connotation that does not conform to the ‘reactive’ behavior, which everything indicates has surrounded this case & rdquor ;, adds .

Third, while acknowledging that the official information available is “limited & rdquor; and many of the expert reports and medical reports are currently “confidential”, the committee affirms that the one from Cangas del Narcea it was “a fortuitous encounter of a bear with the woman, in a small local road and of a few seconds, and that in the flight, the animal hit it with one of its hands, knocking it down & rdquor ;.

As a result, the woman suffered serious injuries to her face and, as a result of the fall, a broken hip. The place where the accident occurred is located about 400 meters from the town of Sonande, inhabited by about 30 people and where the injured woman is from. Therefore, the incident did not occur “in an inhabited nucleus, and not even in its immediate vicinity & rdquor ;, he emphasizes.

Fourth, the FOA stresses that these incidents are “extremely rare and exceptional & rdquor;. In fact, that of Cangas del Narcea would be the eighth occurred in the Cantabrian Mountains with the population of bears in the last three decades and the first in Asturias.

The fifth point collects that the FOA considers “necessary & rdquor; advance knowledge of these cases, the conditions and characteristics of the bears involved and the behavior of the animal and the people involved.

Because “although the reasoning that more bears can cause more incidents like the one that happened is simple, the reality is more complex, as evidenced by the investigations carried out on this type of accidents around the world & rdquor ;, he points out.

“Not even in this case, as in all those that have occurred in recent decades in the Cantabrian Mountains, can one speak of an event in the vicinity of an inhabited nucleus that is related to the proximity of the bears to the towns & rdquor ;, he adds the FOA scientific committee.

Exceptional incidents, but with great social impact

Finally, the brief highlights that the “exceptionality of these incidents & rdquor; does not avoid the great “social impact & rdquor; that they cause and that “cannot be disregarded by those responsible for the conservation policies of the species, especially regarding information campaigns & rdquor ;.

“We want to recall here the recommendations that the FOA have made in the event of a close encounter between bears and people and which we encourage to reinforce these educational actions, thus contributing to improve coexistence and social tolerance with these magnificent animals,” the letter states.

Between the FOA recommendations in the event of a bear encounter there are always being prudent, keeping calm at all times; avoid if possible the encounter; do not confront the animal in any case; be noticed if you have not seen us and are at a short distance, but without fuss or voices; and retreat speaking softly, without threatening gestures, without running, without making noise and without losing sight of him.

In the unlikely event of an attack, it is best to lie on your stomach or in a fetal position, with your face and head protected with your hands, and remain still. And in the event of an encounter on the road while driving, never chase it, stop or slow down until you leave the road, and turn on your hazard lights.

The Oso de Asturias Foundation is a private, non-profit cultural entity whose purpose is to promote and develop activities aimed at the conservation of the Cantabrian brown bear and its habitat. It was created in 1992 by several Asturian entities sensitized to the imminent danger of extinction that threatens the brown bear in Spain, in order to actively intervene in the protection of this species so representative of the wild fauna of the Cantabrian Mountains.

Reference web:

What to do in the presence of a bear (guide):

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