Are There Bears in Scotland?

If you have ever seen the Disney/Pixar movie Brave you know that bears are a big part of the movie’s plot and storyline. It takes place in Scotland and follows Princess Merida and her mom, Queen Elinor, as her mom gets turned into a bear. While we know this story is just a fairy tale, you may be wondering if bears do in fact live in Scotland. Here we will take a look at that question and more. 

Are there bears in Scotland? Today, bears can only be found in captivity in Scotland. The Blair Drummond Safari Park is home to a couple of European brown bears, the Highland Wildlife Park has a duo of polar bears, and the Edinburgh Zoo has some giant pandas and sun bears.  

But while there are no wild bears living in Scotland today, experts say that Scotland used to be home to two different species of wild bears – brown bears and polar bears! Scientists believe that bears in Scotland went extinct in the early Middle Ages (which was in about the 5th century).

RELATED: Cutest Baby Polar Bears [Facts, Photos & Videos]

There has been talk to reintroduce brown bears into the wild in Scotland. Environmental activists want bears to roam wild in their country again, but there has been some concern about public safety. 

Are there bears anywhere in Great Britain? 

Are there bears in Great Britain
Are there bears in Great Britain

There are three countries that makeup Great Britain: England, Scotland, and Wales. We already know that there are no bears in Scotland – but are there any bears in England or Wales? 

England used to be home to bears – and other large mammals like wolves, lynx, moose, bison, and wolverines – but today all of these animals are extinct in this country. Bears were wiped out of England due to hunting and habitat destruction. According to National Geographic, the UK has lost more large mammals than any other European country except for Ireland. 

Wales, just like the other countries in Great Britain, used to have bears. But bears and wolves were both hunted to extinction many centuries ago. There are no dangerous wild animals in Wales, and most of the animals that are found in Wales can be found on farms – such as sheep, cows, and pigs. There are also squirrels, polecats, and feral goats, sheep, and horses. 

RELATED: Do Bears Live in Caves?

What animals live in Scotland? 

Scottish Wildcat
Scottish Wildcat

Bears are carnivores. Some carnivores that live in Scotland are the Scottish wildcat, the red fox, the American mink, the European pine marten, the grey seal, and the harbor seal. Other animals that live in Scotland are the red squirrel, the mountain hare, the Orkney vole, and the red deer. From the coastline of Scotland, locals can also see whales and bottlenose dolphins leaping in the waves.  

The Scottish wildcat is an animal that is unique to the country. There are only about 400 wild members of this cat family left and most of them live in the Highlands of Scotland. It is the rarest mammal in all of Great Britain and they are also the last surviving members of the cat family that are native to the country.

This species of the wildcat is also the largest wildcat in the world- males can grow to be up to 17 pounds and females can be up to 15 pounds. They also have extremely dense fur and eighteen sharp claws. Another thing that makes these cats unique is that they have never been able to be tamed by a human – even if they are born into captivity. 

RELATED: Do Bears Eat Wolves? (And Vice Versa)

Where in Europe do bears live? 

Wonderful brown bear in the Dinaric mountains
Wonderful brown bear in the Dinaric mountains

Since bears do not live in Scotland, where do they live in Europe? At one point, bears roamed in every forest in Europe, but when people cleared the woods to build homes and buildings, the bears were pushed into more and more remote areas. This lead to a large decrease in the population of the bears.

The number of brown bears in Europe has been on the rise since the 1990s. Today, the largest bear populations in Europe are found in the Dinaric Mountains and the Carpathian Mountains. There are also populations in the Pyrenees Mountains, the Alps, and the Apennines Mountains. Some of the European countries with large bear populations are Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Kosovo, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Slovenia, and Ukraine.