Brown Bear confirmed in Portugal’s Parque Natural de Montesinho after 176 year absence
After several unconfirmed sightings of the animal in recent months, Portuguese authorities have said that a European brown bear (Ursus arctos arctos) has been spotted in Portugal for the first time since the species was hunted to extinction.
The regional authority of Castela e Leão alerted local residents of the bears’ presence after sightings were first reported by the Lusa agency, saying that ‘This is the first time in two centuries that brown bears have been seen in Portugal, and we have worked closely with our Spanish counterparts to monitor its movement’.
Bear footprints identified in Divagantes in Barroso, Portugal.
Photo: Carlos Aguilar / Joaquim Moutinho da Silva.
Beyond National Jurisdiction
The director of the Instituto da Conservação da Natureza e das Florestas (ICNF), Portugal’s national conservation organisation, has said that ‘this is a classic example of a species dispersing across a wide geographical range. The individual has come from a dense population of bears found in the Cordilheira Cantábrica region’.
The bear is believed to belong to a subpopulation of bears in Spain which has in recent months dispersed and expanded its range in search of new territory. Adult bears can grow up to 1.5 metres in length and males can weigh up to 200 kilograms.