For the first time since 1843, an adult brown bear* has been spotted on Portuguese territory.
This landmark for the conservation of the Cantabrian bear population was due to the sighting in the Montesinho Natural Park Bragança, reports the Institute of Nature Conservation and Forests.
The species was considered extinct in Portugal. The last confirmed siting was in 1843, when a bear was killed in Gerês.
The bear has been spotted in Montesinho, near the border with Spain.
According to the ICNF, it is "at least one lone individual from the population in the North of Spain, most probably coming from the western part of the Cantabrian Mountain range."
At the end of April, 2019, an apiary was found to have been damaged in la Terjera, in the province of Zamora, according to a statement from the Junta de Castilla y León whose staff concluded that the damage had been caused by a grizzly bear.
"Given the proximity to the Portuguese border, the presence of the bear was communicated to the Institute of Conservation of Nature and Forests, because the animal could continue its trip to the South, which happen days later," explains the ICNF.
"It is the first time in the last 200 years that the presence of this species in Portugal has been reliably verified."
This brown bear "has been monitored by the ICNF" in the border territory, "in tandem with the homologous authorities of Spain," stated the ICNF.
According to the Junta de Castilla y León, "judging from the evidence, it may be a dispersed adult. This behavior is normal since, according to the scientists, some individuals cross significant distances in the Cantabrian Mountains, which seem to be linked to set moments of their biological cycle."
According to the ICNF, "the last records evidencing the stable presence of brown bear (Ursus arctus) in Portugal are from the 16th century until the end of the 19th century when it was extinguished from our territory."
Learn more about the brown bear.
The brown bear is five feet five inches tall. Males can weigh between 80 and 240 pounds and females between 65 and 170 pounds.
The world population of bear grizzly is estimated at about 200,000 animals. Russia has the largest populations (estimated at 120,000 bears), followed by the United States (32,200, of which 31,000 in Alaska) and Canada (25,000). There are still bears in China and Japan.
In Europe, excluding Russia, there are an estimated 14,000 bears. In southern Europe, this species is endangered with small populations in Greece, the Cantabrian Mountains, Abruzzo, Trentino and the Pyrenees.
* In North America, the populations of brown bears are often called grizzly bears