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The habitat of the bear and the capercaillie

El Bierzo has an unspoilt natural wealth of great importance for two species in danger of extinction: the capercaillie and the brown bear.  Both species have been able to recover in part thanks to the work of several organisations, such as the Brown Bear Foundation (Fundación Oso Pardo), or the Life programme, co-funded by the European Union to recover the habitat and numbers of the capercaillie.
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The Brown Bear in el Bierzo
The Alto Sil and the Ancares are the main breeding grounds of the brown bear in El Bierzo.

The census data confirm the recovery of the species after decades of steady decline. The clear increase in the number of specimens, a total of 250 in the entire Cantabrian mountain range (cordillera cantábrica), allows us to speak of a promising future for this species in the Eastern Mountain of León (Montaña Oriental de León) and Palencia and in a particularly powerful area in the Alto Sil and the Ancares of León.

In addition to this last enclave, it should be born in mind the fact that both areas are closely connected with Galicia and Asturias which allows greater mobility of specimens and, therefore, eliminate the risks that, nowadays, could cause consanguinity between animals.

Further information: www.fundacionosopardo.org
The stronghold of the capercaillie
The small population of the capercaille is found mainly in the Alto Sil, in the Ancares, where there are about 15 leks, or meeting points for the reproduction of the species.

The capercaillie is the biggest of the Spanish gallinaceous birds. It is named after the sound it emits during its rut, similar to the one of the "urus", wild ancestor of domestic bovines.

The capercaillie needs a natural environment with coniferous forests, with lush vegetation, as well as drinking water and anthills.

It is a large bird with significant differences between male and female. The male can reach the meter in length and the four kilos of weight, while the female does not usually exceed seventy centimetres and two kilos.

In the Iberian Peninsula, its population have dropped drastically in recent years, to the point that it is currently one of the most endangered species.

The main objective of the project LIFE + Cantabrian Capercaillie is to halt the decline of this endemic subspecies of the Iberian Peninsula and encourage its recovery.

Further information: http://lifeurogallo.es

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