Bears in Europe

A young brown bear eats blueberries in the forest. A young brown bear eats blueberries in the forest.
Bears love berries (and other plant-based foods).
They eat about 80 percent vegetarian food.
© depositphotos/Giedriius

Europe’s bears living in peril

Throughout human cultural history, the European brown bear  has been characterised in many different and often contradictory ways. In the Middle Ages, brown bears could still be found throughout mainland Europe. However, in most of their former range, bears have been eradicated by humans. Roads now fragment their last areas of retreat, isolating populations from one another, and road traffic accidents involving bears are on the increase. In Europe, poaching and excessive legal shooting are also threatening the survival of these large carnivores. Together with partner organisations in Spain and the Balkans, EuroNatur is working to increase knowledge about brown bears, to provide them with effective protection and to preserve their habitats.

Brown Bear taking a bath

Brown bear in a waterhole
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What we are doing for Europe's bears

  • Fighting illegal hunting: In Spain, the main threat to brown bears comes from illegal hunting. Our partners at Fapas patrol bear areas, rooting out poisoned bait and recording instances of poaching. As a result, in January 2020, they were able to put a stop to the activities of a bear-killing gang.
  • Paving the way for bear range expansion: Thanks to the tireless work of EuroNatur and Fapas, bears have been able to reclaim former habitats. In 2019, brown bears were spotted in Portugal for the first time in around a hundred years. The construction of green bridges, which enable the bears to occupy new territories, is playing an important role in this.
  • Securing food sources: We are providing improved food sources for bears, for example, by planting fruit trees or putting out carrion in bear areas. We have also successfully worked to bring about a relaxation of the overly strict EU hygiene regulations in places where carcasses are laid out for carrion consuming species.

I think the future of the bears in the Cantabrian Mountains looks good. There is a large territory as far north as Portugal where the bears can live.

Roberto Hartasánchez from Fapas Roberto Hartasánchez, CEO of FAPAS

Analysing bear droppings, planting fruit trees, bringing poachers to justice: There are many different aspects to protecting Europe’s bears

How to behave in bear areas

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Join in and help us!

Join the many people getting actively involved for brown bears in Europe. We are grateful for any donation for bears or active contribution you can make! In doing so, you are supporting an independent and networked civil society in Europe, which is campaigning vigorously to protect Europe’s bears. Please help us any way you can!

How you can help

Future needs nature. EuroNatur cares for it. Please help anyway you can. With your donation you will make an effective contribution to protect brown bears in Europe.

Bear sponsorship

Once widespread throughout Europe, brown bears now only live in mountain regions that are difficult to access. Help protect bears and their habitats.