The best hunting areas are the Atlantic coast, the Pyrenees and parts of Andalusia, where big game includes mountain goat ( cabra hispánica), various species of deer, ibex, roebuck, chamois, stag, wild boar, wolf and big-horned mountain sheep. Certain animals, such as bears and lynx, are in danger of extinction and are officially protected (although people still shoot them!).
The hunting season for all game is strictly defined and there are large fines for anyone caught hunting out of season. The hunting season for small game runs from mid-October to early February and includes grouse, quail, ring dove, turtle dove, red-legged partridge, pheasant, duck, geese, bustard, water fowl, pigeon, hare and rabbit.
Like the French and Italians, the Spanish kill thousands of songbirds each year, which are considered a delicacy by many people and are unprotected. There’s no tradition of conservation in Spain and most hunters are inclined to shoot anything that moves. Although they won’t deliberately shoot, it’s advisable to steer clear of the countryside during the hunting season.
There are several kinds of hunting land, ranging from free zones where only a general licence ( permiso de caza) is necessary, to municipal-owned local reserves, private reserves and national reserves, where a special licence is required. To hunt in a national reserve you need a hunting permit, issued by the provincial or regional office of the Ministry of the Environment (Ministerio de Medio Ambiente, 915-976 000, http://www.mma.es). Special permission is also required to hunt in a private reserve ( coto privado de caza/coto vedado de caza). The best way to hunt in Spain is to join a local club. When hunting is prohibited, it’s usually denoted by a square sign divided diagonally into black and white halves.
Hunters need a medical certificate obtainable from special clinics ( Centros de Reconocimento Médico para Conductores y Armas todas las Categorías), a firearms permit ( permiso de armas) and third party insurance. Guns must be broken and bagged when transported on public land and they may not be used within 500m (1,600ft) of a house or in any urban zone (often ignored).
Non-resident hunters may import their own firearms, although they must obtain an import certificate from their local Spanish consulate abroad (take your current firearms certificate to the consulate with a photocopy and your passport). On arrival in Spain, the import certificate and gun must be taken to the local police station, who will issue a Spanish gun permit.
There are a number of magazines devoted to hunting in Spain such as Trofeo and Caza Mayor, and regional tourist offices publish hunting leaflets and maps. Hunting trips and package holidays for hunters are organised on private estates throughout Spain (the most popular regions are Castille-La Mancha, Andalusia, Extremadura and Castille & Leon). For further information about hunting contact the Spanish Hunting Federation ( Federación Española de Caza), C/Zurbano, 76, Of 7, 28010 Madrid (913-950 460, http://www.fedecaza.com ).
This article is an extract from Living and Working in Spain.
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