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.
A farmer must be responsible. A so-called hunter would have taken some or all of the animal as a “trophy”. A coward either way.
Not that simple. In Asturias evrybody is related to everybody. The ganaderos and hunters associations run politics in Asturias. They are not ‘farmers’ in the sense that term is used elsewhere. They may not even own land, much less till it. Ganaderos, ie, herdsmen, usually belong to local hunters associations as well. They have family members in local political and law enforcement agencies. They may have more allegiance to extended family than to law and emerging democratic culture. Their educational level is frequently lower than institute.
As herdsmen and hunters they believe they have the ‘right’ even duty to manage the mountains and forests, obviously, for the benefit of goats, cattle and sheep because that is ‘how its done in Asturias.
They have long been at political war with official Asturian and national entities and non-official groups charged with promoting and enforcing ecology and sustainability.
Their tight, well disciplined, semi- secret associations have money for attorneys as well as the ability to influence local politicians and local population directly or through relatives or n’er do wells willing to ‘help out’.
Some years ago an enforcement agent charged with wolf protection in Los Picos was arrested and sentenced for killing wolf cubs, presumably because he had more loyalty to his herdsmen family than to the agency which employed him or to the laws he had pledged to uphold. It took some months, but eventually he went to prison.
All this part of Franco’s corporatist structure: give groups power in exchange for their political support at local, CA and national election time. Make the individual and individual rights irrelevant because groups bring in more votes. That’s how Franco and most Spanish parties still operate.
So, the bear killer could be anyone. But shooting the animal in the middle of the preserve does suggest that it was a ‘hit’ intended to communicate unstoppable power, that those opposed to bears, wolves and vultures can do what they want because they think they are smarter and better organized. And they are going to ‘keep the mountains for themselves.’
This is ideology, part of which can be seen in those who think that there is value in continuing violent traditions because that is ‘part of Spain.’
What we are seeing, albeit very slowly is a shift away from thoughtless, violent, ideological positions toward something new. This will depend on education and public awareness.