AN investigation has been launched after a protected brown bear was found shot dead in Spain.
Tourists discovered the male bear on Friday near the entrance to the Muniellos Nature Reserve in the northern region of Asturias.
Weighing around 105 kilos, the bear appears to have been killed by a single shot to the chest.
Fundacion Oso Pardo, or the Brown Bear Foundation, said the killing is extremely worrying given that it happened in the heart of a protected area.
Its president Guillermo Palomero said: “There is no reason that justifies shooting and killing a bear.”
There are around 280 bears in Spain and they have caused tension among some locals in recent year due to attacks on livestock.
The bears are omnivores, eating anything from berries and nuts to sheep and calves.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, they play a necessary role in keeping other animal populations in check while also helping ‘seed dispersal’ with their droppings.