Due to their inaccessibility and isolation the Cantabrian mountain range particularly the Picos de Europa, Ponga and Somiedo, possess a large mountainous and wooded area in an excellent state of conservation. This unspoilt environment provides habitat for a great variety of animal species. Some of the species are outlined below.
Asturias boasts the last population of brown bears in Western Europe. There are about 60 in total, and although there are some in the Picos / Ponga area, most are around the Somiedo area where there is a small museum with information about the brown bears. (Unfortunately all the information is only in Spanish) They are very difficult to see in their wild habitat and the best place to watch them is in the Carbarceno zoo near Santander or also in captivity on the "Senda del Oso" or "Bear Walk" near Proaza.
Wolves, also difficult to see, do have their presence felt by the farmers who suffer continual cattle loss. With respect to conservation policy this is the most controversial of all animals. There are about 15-20 that roam in the national park and the Ponga area, and some of the original old wolf traps can still be seen.
The Chamois is the animal most representative of the Picos de Europa, dominating the higher altitudes. There are about 6,500 in and around the Picos, of which over half are found in the western massif. This beautiful animal is quite easy to see at altitudes above 1,600 meters.
There are many other mammals present in the region. Wild boar, are widespread, and are a continual pest to farmers as they dig up the pastures and plunder the maize plantations. Roe deer are also widespread in the region, but fallow deer are unique to the Sueve range where they are plentiful. Badgers, mountain cats, beech martins, red squirrels and genets are also typical of the area.
In total there are about 22 different species of birds of prey in Asturias. Griffon vultures are on the increase and are easy to see, there are about 50 pairs in the Picos, 30 in Ponga, and 15 in the Sueve range. There is a feeding point (where dead farm animals are left) close to the Mirador de la Reina on the road up to the lakes in the western massif. Here it is normally very easy to see many birds of prey including Griffon vultures. Egyptian vultures, which are migratory, can be seen from March to October. There are about 8 breeding pairs of Golden eagles located in rock faces of difficult access.
Estimates suggest there are about 100 male Capercaillies, which are found in the beech woods of Ponga and the Picos. Other birds of interest are Wallcreepers found, amongst other places, in the Cain end of the Carres gorge, and snow finches found near Vega Ario and Jou Santo.