THE HUNTING RESERVE (H.R.) “LA SIERRA”
The government of Extremadura, within the territorial level of the principle population of the Iberian ibex, in the area of the occidental massif of the “Sierra de Gredos”, through different arrangements of the years 1985 and 1987, declared a Controlled Hunting Area refering to determined areas situated in municipal districts of Tornavacas, Guijo de Santa Bárbara, Jarandilla de la Vera, Losar de la Vera y Viandar de la Vera.
This protective hunting formula allowed the optimal development of the population and trophies of the Iberian ibex. As a matter of fact, during the first census carried out by the Agents of the General Management of the Natural Environment, assigned to the of hunting controlled areas, only a marginal figure of 35 individuals of the Iberian ibex was found (without distinction of gender nor age). Another census, carried out fifteen years later, previous to the declaration of the Regional Hunting Reserve, indicated a substancial increase, both in individual quantity as well as regarding quality of its trophies, permitting to recognize, unreservedly, the recovery of the species in the area.
Before the legal status of the area of controlled hunting was over, the General Management of the Natural Environment, together with the Government of Extremadura, suspended the hunting activity in these areas at the end of 1999, keeping a close vigilance on the latter until the official status for these areas came into force. Once the different alternatives were considered, the majority of the landowners jointly asked Regional Administration, for the adoption of a formula in line with the values of the area, assuming that the survival of the species, depended on the perception of tangible benefits by the people living in the neighboring towns of Sierra de Gredos in Extremadura.
The figure of the Regional Hunting Reserve was adopted, in accordance with article 15 of the law 8 /1990 on the 21 of December as long as the hunting in Extremadura was concerned, representing a hub of exceptional hunting possibilities, with attention to its physical and biological order, being individualized with the aim to promote and protect species from a hunting purposes.
Therefore, by means of the decree 65/2001 of the 2nd of May, creating the Regional Hunting Reserve La Sierra (D.O.E. Nº 52 de 08/05/2001), the same was declared in the Cáceres regions Vera and Valle del Jerte, covering a space of 32,370 acre on the Guijo de Santa Barbara, Tornavacas, Jarandilla de la Vera, Losar de la Vera and Viandar de la Vera jurisdictions, that eventually has come to strike a balance between quality hunting, preservation of the natural environment and the maintenance of traditional human use.
Albeit, in accordance with the realised measurement in orthophoto, the real surface is 34,367 acres. These measurements distributed in TT.MM and in function of the property regulations of the following form, underlining the unit of all the private owners of the Asociación de Propietarios de la Reserva de Caza La Sierra de Gredos de Extremadura (Association of landowners of the hunting reserve La Sierra de Gredos of Extremadura):
|MUNICIPALITY||SURFACE (ha)||PRIVATE PROPERTY||PUBLIC PROPERTY|
|LOSAR DE LA VERA||3.116,95||0,00%||100,00%|
|VIANDAR DE LA VERA||1.789,38||100,00%||0,00%|
|GUIJO DE SANTA BARBARA||3.501,80||93,68%||6,32%|
|JARANDILLA DE LA VERA||525,21||68,96%||31,04%|
The new law 14/2010 concerning the hunting in Extremadura modifies the name of the regional hunting reserves, changing to the name Reserva de Caza.
The hunting reserve “La Sierra” presents important rocky granite outcrops and gneiss. Its very rugged orography is typical for high-altitude mountains, belonging to the western sector of Sierra de Gredos, in its south side, from “El Cancho” peak with 2.271 mamsl (limit between Viandar and Villanueva de la Vera with with province of Avila) until Puerto de Tornavacas with 1.274 mamsl . The altitude range, with a medium of 1.400 mamsl varies from 500 mamsl in the Garganta de Cuartos (somewhat higher than the bridge of Cuartos), to the “La Covacha” peak, approximately 2.399 mamsl, the second highest peak of the Autonomous Region of Extremadura. This causes a climatology which offers great contrasts based on altitude with cold winters and frequent snowfall and mild summers.
All the waters of the Hunting Reserve belong to the hydrographic river basin of the Tajo, receiving them through the sub-basin of the rivers Jerte and Tietar. The water that strikes these two rivers comes from a myriad of ravines, such as the San Martín y de los Infiernos, after the latter ravine receiving water from the “Garganta de la Serrá”, “Garganta de Asperones” and “Garganta del Hornillo” to the Jerte and the river Tietar pouring out into the Garganta Jaranda and the Garganta de Cuartos.
All this generates diverse landscapes, such as woods that are basically composed by deciduous species like the pyrenean oak, chestnut trees, wild cherry, some understorey rowan, brambles and fern, furthermore there are some areas of scots pines and black pines, riverside woodland with ashes, alders, willows and other species, constituting authentic botanical relics, such as the holly, birch and the very scarce yew tree (listed as species threatened with extinction), the spanish genista called “piornales” in high altitudes, replacing tree populations that cannot thrive adequately due to the soil and climate. In areas of high altitude and good soil conditions, piornos, cambriones, juniper, alpine broom, and also alpine pasture or matgrass are abundant species, dominated by herbaceas such as the alpe or cervuno, gencianas, azafran serrano and in boggy areas, also heather. The presence of endemisms of the Sierra de Gredos, such as the boca de dragón or la Centaurea avíale are to be underlined.
With regard to the fauna, the diversity of the ecosystems creates a great richness in species. In the aquatic environment, notable species are the brown trout among fishes and the salamander among the amphibians. In the terrestrial environments, reptiles such as the black lizard or the snub-nosed viper are common in these terrains. Among the birds, the presence of the dipper, jay, yellow bird, bluethroat, and among the raptors the golden eagle and the peregrine falcon. As far as mammals are concerned, most importantly, there are the wildcats, common genets, martens, pyrenean desmans and the otters.
Next to the hunting fauna of the big game, in addition to the principal species of the Reserve, being the Iberian ibex (Capra pyrenaica victoriae), we find the deer, boar and with respect to the species of small game, partridge, hares and rabbits, such as the common wood pigeon.
Besides their hunting value, these lands represent a high natural value, which is confirmed as it is equally declared, largely the terrains of the Hunting Reserve, Natural reserve of the “Garganta de los Infiernos”. Of the 16,803 acres that the reserve measures in TT.MM, covering parts of Cabezuela del Valle, Jerte and Tornavacas of the Jerte area, two-thirds are integrated in the Hunting Reserve. Additionally, the Hunting Reserve is almost totally located within the Site of Community Importance “Sierra de Gredos y Valle del Jerte” (ES04320038), counting 74.269,31 ha.
The management of the Hunting Reserve is performed mainly the Natural Environment agents and the hunting guards, intended for the same Hunting Reserve. They carry out their work in a high mountain environment, different from the rest of the territory of our Autonomous Region, where footpaths are practically inexistent, and therefore they have to walk, surpassing drops of 1,200 mamsl in one shift. Their work include tasks such as surveilling, be stalking guides, sample taking of dejected animals and supervision of other hunting actions, census, site control, and more tasks that they are entrusted with.
The exploitation for hunting purposes of the different hunting species within the Reserve is, at all times, subordinated to the needs and demands of the measures that the principal species and reason behind the declaration - the Iberian ibex. This measure is fulfilled, based on the Annual Hunting Exploitation Plans, which are written depending on the annually conducted census, the execution of the preceding annual plan and other tecnical considerations such as the capacity of the stocking or the stocking density, that allow to fix the capture plan for each season.
Presently, the Hunting Reserve shows an important population of Iberian ibex, reaching its highest presence at the end of winter and the beginning of spring. During summer, the population is reduced significantly, due to the major freshness of the north side of Gredos, in the province of Avila and the increase of the stocking density during this period. Hereby, the General Management of the Natural Environment has an agreement with the majority of the owners of the H.R. La Sierra, renting the exploitation of the high mountain pastures, in order to guarantee full and exclusive exploitation of the Iberian ibex.
Albeit it could reach a higher stocking capacity of the existing population, it is not very convenient to aim for such, as optimal quality of trophies and a good health status of the population can only be achieved (the monitoring of the health status through an colaboration agreement among the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development, Environment and Energy and the Department of Animal Parasitology and Parasite Diseases of the Veterinary Faculty of the University of Extremadura), by avoiding possible damage to the vegetation (let’s not forget about the existence of botanical endemisms of high value and interest) and the high loss of life of the individual cub with the risk of the high mountains in mind.
From the beginning of the of the UEX monitoring on, more than 30% of the carcasses have been analized. The results show that the health status of the Iberian ibex in the Hunting Reserve “La Sierra” is acceptable, except for the cases of certain sporadical and specific contagious pathologies.
In any case, we think suitable to continue the epidemiological surveillance research so that we can plan with sufficient advance the fight and control of these possible contagious processes, if necesary.
The quota of the annual captures have risen in accordance with the improvement of the populations, representing 92 exemplaries in 2013/2014 (60 males and 32 females) that constitute the compensation canon to the land owners and comply with the Public Hunting Offer of the government of Extremadura. The hunting of these species is carried out by means of the modality of stalk hunting, 30% of the Public Hunting Offer of the government of Extremadura and the remaining part as compensation canon for the land owners.
|SEASON||NUMBER OF PERMISSIONS BY CATEGORY||TOTAL|
|MALE A1||MALES >= 12 years old||More than 235 Points in Green|
|MALE A2||MALES >=11 years old||From 215 to 240 Points in Green|
|MALE B1||MALES >=9 years old, few or not developed
for its age, preferably >11 years old
|From 195 to 220 Points in Green|
|MALE B2||MaLES >=8 years old, at least 50 % of one ofits horn is missing||Until 195 Points in Green|
|FEMALE IBERIAN IBEX||Undeterminated female Iberian ibex||-|
Additionally to the hunting accions, within the Hunting Reserve, the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development, Environment and Energy make, on an annual basis, important infrastructure investments and improvements of habitat, executing activities such as the construction and maintenance of traditional high mountain trails and paths, the constrution of pedestrian bridges and for the building of passages for cattle above the numerous ravines, manually built selective coppice and brushwood, construction of mountain shelters, adequate irrigation systems in order to maintain the pastures etc. Among these activities, there is the Interpretation Centre of the Hunting Reserve “La Sierra” situated in the town of Guijo de Santa Bárbara, which allows to get to know not only the natural value of the Reserve but also the emblematic species “the male Iberian ibex”, being probably the only Interpretation Centre that is intended for hunting in Spain or the recent spread of the publication of the book especially dedicating its content to this hunting figure of the reserve.
All these activities, improvements of infrastructure and habitat, compensation canons, investigation agreements, hunting actions as well as the opening of the Interpretation Centre contribute to the development of the municipalities and its surroundings, benefitting their owners, livestock, local hunters, and eventually promote tourism.