When Óscar Montero found a brown bear cub on his snow-covered stairway in Prioro in Spain, he was amazed and the photos he took went viral on the social media.
It happened on Saturday. The streets and houses of the village of Prioro were coated in a thick blanket of snow and with the intense winter cold, neighbors stayed indoors, keeping warm. Montero, 26, was about to light a fire in the house where he lives when he looked out of the window. He was amazed to see a young bear cub, climbing up his snow-covered front stairs.
According to the Local, Montero said his first impulse was to go out and pet the bear cub, but he realized the mother could be close by and resisted the urge.
— EL PAÍS España (@elpais_espana) February 10, 2015
Tweet translation: “I thought about going out to pet the cub” – Oscar Montero had an encounter with the bear.
Prioro, a small town with only approximately 400 residents, is located at 1,000m above sea level and, with the recent cold snap in Spain, has been cut off from the outside world by heavy snowfall.
Locals believe the bear cub had come down from the mountains in search of food, and the local iLeon newspaper reported the recent cold weather has forced several animals to abandon their normal mountain habitats, searching in the villages close by for food.
However, Montero told the Spanish language newspaper El País that it is unusual to see bears in the village.
“We’ve seen wild boar, deer but never a bear!”
He took several photos of the bear cub, posting them on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, where they have since gone viral. Montero said he wanted to also take a video of the animal, but just as he started, it ran off back to its normal mountain home.
Montero never thought the photo would go as viral as it did and he was a little overwhelmed by the response.
“The photo has been shared so much, I never thought it would have such an impact.”
Although Montero might not remember it, this isn’t the first time a bear has headed down to the town of Prioro looking for food. The mayor of the town, Francisco José Escanciano, remembers an adult bear coming down from the mountains 30 years ago, searching for food, and apparently the bear attacked a sheep pen. He also mentioned that during the summer, several tracks were seen close to the village and residents saw a bear with her cub.
Cantabrian brown bears, to which species the bear cub belongs, are an endangered species in Spain. Last estimates put the number remaining at only around 230 and they are listed as a species “in danger of extinction.”
A ban on hunting bears was introduced in 1973 and these days, a maximum fine of €300,000 ($340,000) is imposed on anyone killing a bear.
While the Cantabrian brown bears are endangered, it sounds like they might be better off than some bears in Russia. The Inquisitr reports that wild bears are being forced to drink beer in order to entertain Russian restaurant diners.
[Image: Screengrab from video on El País website]