Wolves and bears in Northern Spain

We’re hoping to head over to Spain in August, looking for bears, wolves & wildcat. Does anyone have good descriptions of the right locations to look for these? Is it recommended to get local guiding for wolves and/or bears, or is there a good chance of finding them if you’re looking in the right place?

Any assistance gratefully received!

Matt & Maureen

8 Comments
  1. Ignacio Yúfera 2 months ago

    Unless you have A LOT of time on your hands, I strongly recommend that you get professional help to find those species. Wild Watching Spain do an excellent job in Northern Spain: https://www.wildwatchingspain.com/

    I worked with them last year and got excellent results. Be sure to ask them about current conditions, cats aren’t active until the fields where mole rats nest have been mowed (usually late summer, but depends on rains and temperature).

    Good luck,

    Ignacio

  2. Steve Davis 2 months ago

    We used wildwatchingspain too last September. They had intimate knowledge of the local area, and with 4 x 4’s could access areas that we certainly couldn’t, and get to areas that we would never have found….
    One note of caution – it is necessary to be critical of the provenance of some of the Wildcats in the area, as several of the animals that we were shown were definitely not pure ! We took numerous photos of the animals that we saw, and were completely confident of at least 4 different animals; but at least a similar number had features that indicated a degree of hybridisation.
    It is a beautiful area, and we thoroughly enjoyed our stay – have a great trip.
    Steve.

  3. Chris Townend 2 months ago

    I too would certainly recommend using Wild Watching Spain, particularly for the Wolves. As Steve mentioned above, it is important to be very open minded when seeing some of the Wildcats as there are some hybrids for sure! I also run trips using Wild Watching Spain if interested.

  4. Miles Foster 2 months ago

    Thanks for this thread. I am also contemplating a trip to the area at some point and will keep an eye on any more advice that is posted.

    Have a great trip, Matt and Maureen.

    Miles Foster

  5. Profile photo of shortclaws Author
    shortclaws 2 months ago

    Thanks everyone for the comments! The Wild Watching Spain guys have suggested we go bear watching in the same area as the wolves – around Riaño. We had thought we needed to go to Somiedo for bears. Does anyone know whether it’s worth splitting our time between the two areas? Are different species more likely around Someido?

    Thanks.

  6. Miles Foster 2 months ago

    We tried for bears in Somiedo without a guide and asked everyone we met for advice and the usual reply was ‘You’ll be lucky’. But we did meet an old lady who lived alone high up in the mountains who said she had once seen a bear with two cubs near her house. One other person had seen a bear disappear into the undergrowth beside the road late one night. We stayed in a cottage owned by a bee-keeper and he told us his hives were regularly raided and took us to see the damage after a recent visitation. He had even built a zoo-standard enclosure to protect some of his hives but any that were outside remained very vulnerable. So they are around but very weary of humans. Most people who had lived there all their lives had never seen one. However, we did come within a few minutes of one – that is, we found absolutely fresh tracks but still could not find the bear though it was definitely near by.

    However, a definite highlight was that we saw a beech marten and a pine marten on the same patch of track within a minute of each other, in broad daylight.

    We finally caught up with European brown bears in Romania.

    Good luck!

    Miles

  7. Profile photo of stevebabbs
    stevebabbs 2 months ago

    I have suggested view points for bears in Somiedo. I haven’t tried them yet, but I will be. I am happy to email them. Contact me on stevebabbs500 (at) gmail.com

  8. Jan Kelchtermans 2 months ago

    I do visit Cantabria and Culebra for a period of 10 years now. For wolves I added the Picos area near Riano since 5 years. Nowadays 15 companies do. I do visit this areas personally and as a guide on small scale. For sure the real (Iberan) wolves, the real (Cantabrian) brown bears but seldom seen close by. In Culebra end of August is a prime period to find wolves. Info about public viewpoints to find on this website. Being familiar with the area/having wolf scoping experience is necessary to find lone wolves or packs as the viewpoints genereally overlook vast areas. Wolves can be ‘patrolling dots’. You need 2, 3 days there to succeed. When there is carrion (road kills & dead farm animals dropped by foresters) at one specific viewpoint, you might see wolves very well. I did several times. In general never missed them neither. Avoid weekends as curious locals with their dogs and noisy kids can cause disturbance. Near Riano it is indeed all about using WWS company. Not for free, but great service. Using them one morning and one evening with a 4WD to remote areas, I always resulted in spotting wolf packs the full monthy way: grooming, playing with cubs, hunting,… Most remote areas are the best. Be prepared for a very bumpy ride followed by a steep hike for 20 to 45 minutes. When guiding elderies, going to these spots is not an option. And again: wolves appear in the far distance; having a scope is essential. Wild Cats? Road site bycatch actually. Very easy here.
    Somiedo one of the 5 areas in Cantabria to observe autumn bears feeding on arrandanos (local berries). Info about public viewpoints on this website I presume. Important is to have knowledge about areas where arrandanos are present. Bears do feed on them dusk and dawn , sun must be behind the summit. Once the sun is there, bears vanish. On rainy days they feed longer. Clouds an enoying problem here. Than you have to switch to lower, other locations. I do use two, three different hotels in the hotel to succeed in finding several bears. May a very good period too for bear spotting here. Saw 10 different bears this spring in one day. And: although less active, Cantabrian brown bears can be spotted in winter time too. Last year a local fellow had a bear during winter time now and then from his porch.

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