The brown bear is making a slow but steady comeback in the Pyrenees. At least two bear cubs born last winter have been sighted this year, and, according to the Consejo General de Arán, the local government in this region of Catalonia, forest rangers are trying to confirm that the signs found are those of a third cub. The bear population in the Pyrenees is estimated at around 25 individuals. Fifteen years ago, when the native population was on the verge of extinction, France began reintroducing the species, importing three Slovenian specimens, which are genetically almost identical to the Pyrenean bears.
The bear’s expansion in the Pyrenees, where its range covers Aragón, Catalonia and Navarre, as well as on the French side of the border, continues to face opposition from the institutions in the region. Environmentalists, and the French and Spanish governments, continue supporting the animal's presence, however. Among local people opinions are divided. A survey in February found 45% of the population in the Arán valley in favour of bears and 42.3% against.
The positive aspects of reintroduction of the brown bear, as well as its potential to attract tourism, are the animal's demands when it comes to choosing its habitat. The fact that it has established itself in the western Pyrenees, specifically in the area along the French border area in Catalonia, is a sign of the area's biodiversity and the quality of its woodlands.