Spain, widely regarded as the hunting reserve of Europe, has more land area devoted to hunting than any other EU country, provides more than 20,000 permanent jobs in gamekeeping alone, and employs around two million temporary workers during the hunting season. Hunting is worth around 400,000m pesetas annually to the Spanish economy.
   Spain, with its rich variety of game, is one of the few countries where hunting is practised all year round. Hunting terminology distinguishes between caza mayor (big game) and caza menor (small game). Nine of the ten big game species are native: wild boar, red deer, roe deer, fallow deer, chamois, ibex, wolf, lynx and bear. The other, the moufflon, was introduced into the Coto Nacional de Cazorla y Segura (Cazorla and Segura National Game Reserve) in 1953. The lynx is a protected species and may not be hunted.
   Among small game, the most important species are: red-legged partridge, turtle dove, wood pigeon, quail, great bustard, capercaillie, rabbit, pheasant, hare, wildfowl and predators such as hawks, the latter being considered an endangered species and protected by a permanent hunting ban. Spain is the only country in Europe where the avutarda (great bustard) exists in large numbers, especially in Extremadura—a hunting region par excellence. The largest European bird, and relatively rare, it is much sought after by hunters.
   The most numerous species, and the object of special attention by hunters, are the wildfowl: geese, and ducks such as mallard, teal and goosander. Much of Spain is covered by water: rivers, lakes, reservoirs, ponds and lagoons. Some of the wetlands, such as the Ebro Delta in Catalonia, the Albufera lagoon in Valencia, the ponds of Extremadura and the Guadalquivir marsh are renowned worldwide for wildfowling (i.e. duck hunting). The latter is close to the Coto de Doñana, considered to be the most important bird reserve in Europe.
   Conservation of hunting, and the administration of parks and national game reserves are the responsibility of the Servicio de Pesca Continental, Caza y Parques Nacionales (Fishing, Hunting and National Parks Service), which currently administers two national game reserves, five national parks, and twenty-three conservation areas, including that of Anayet which is closed to hunting under an international agreement. The Dirección General de Montes, Caza y Pesca Fluvial (Office for Hunting and River Fishing), issues guidelines which are implemented in the annual Orden de Vedas (Close Season Orders), which are designed to ensure species conservation, and establishes regional prohibitions, with the aim of allowing populations to re-establish themselves, thereby providing increased sporting opportunities. The Direction General de Promotion del Turismo (Office for the Promotion of Tourism) administers three national hunting reserves, which are among the finest in Europe because of their facilities, the variety of species found, and the size of their game stocks. Lastly, the Patrimonio Forestal del Estado (State Forest Trust) administers the Coto National de Cazorla, the largest and best-stocked hunting reserve, where most of the top ten big game species can be found.
   It is, however, in private reserves that a great deal of hunting is carried out. There are over 230 private big game reserves, which offer ample facilities, including about seventy-five high mountain locations, and a huge number of small game reserves, distributed evenly over the national territory. The importance of private reserves may be due to the fact that more than 90 percent of the demand is for small game, especially the red-legged partridge, which is hunted by the favourite method of beatingup (ojeo). The national game reserves offer only big game, with the exception of the Delta del Ebro and the Tablas de Daimiel lakes in La Mancha, which have a concentration of wildfowl. Besides, national reserves offer only the method known as rececho, which involves taking up a position in one place, whereas most hunters prefer the active pursuit characteristic of the classic Spanish monterías, which are regarded as more enjoyable.
   Hunting is important for stimulating lowseason tourism which not only earns foreign currency but also brings specialized tourist traffic to more remote areas, creating job prospects, increasing the standard of living locally, and enabling new initiatives.
   Further reading
   - Durantel, P. (1993) Nuevo Manual de la Caza, Barcelona: Editorial Planeta, S.A (an introductory guide to hunting in Spain: techniques, licence requirements and organizations).
   - Graffi, R. (1993) El Gran Libro del Cazador, Barcelona: Editorial De Vecchi, S.A (an introduction to the world of hunting and falconry in Spain).

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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