Whilst out and about in the countryside here in Andalucia, you are bound to come across a variety of signs and notices telling you what kind of area you are in or whether you are about to stray onto private land. You may find signs telling you to “keep out!!” or to “Please close the gate”. More and more fences are going up and access to land is being restricted. In some cases trails and paths are closed and directional signs taken down illegally. (see Via pecuaria below)
Basically the rules to follow, whether on horseback, walking or cycling in the countryside are:
- Have an up to date map with the footpath shown
- Don’t go through a gate that has a Propiedad Privada sign on it.
- Respect private land (Propiedad Privada) and stay on designated footpaths
Signs and notices
The signs and notices that are found in the countryside are numerous and can sometimes be intriguing or confusing. They range from privately bought and errected ones to bits of wood tied to a tree with a message scribbled on it. I really like the one that says “Por favor, CIERREN. Hay GANADO suelto, Gracias“. Which, simply put, means “Please close the gate as there is livestock in the field”
Other signs don’t seem so polite and are short and to the point. They bark an order to us saying “Finca Privada. NO PASAR!” meaning “Private! Stay out!”.
Some are instructions telling us to stay on the paths and not to stray into the private areas. You might see these when you are walking along a footpath that runs between two pieces of private land.
Some common signs you might see are:
- Loose dogs: Perros sueltos
- Beware of the dog: Cuidado con el perro
- Loose livestock (Including bulls!): Ganado suelto
- Dangerous loose livestock (often bulls): Ganado bravo
- Close the gate: Cierren la cancelar or just Cierren
- Livestock road normally open to the public (often with a private property sign. This is ilegal but best you accept it is private property until the law is changed): Via pecuaria
- Private road: Camino particular or Camino privada
- Danger Bees (Bee hives nearby): Peligro abejas (colmenar)
- Military zone (always no entry): Zona militar
Private estates and hunting. Signs and notices
The signs that we get asked about most often by visitors to the Sierra de Grazalema are the ones that that pertain to private estates and hunting and whilst there are laws that enforce the placement of these signs in order to avoid accidents perhaps the biggest mistake people make when on a path is to think that Coto privada de caza means that they have strayed onto private land and are trespassing.
This is not the case as yes, you may be on private hunting land but so long as you have followed rules 2 and 3 mentioned previously, you aren’t trespassing.
Game hunting reserve or Reserva de caza
Normally this is within protected natural park areas. In many cases this is under the control of the local park authorities and selected culling and trophy hunting is carried out under the supervision of the park guards.
Private hunting or coto privada de caza
Perhaps the most common sign you will see as almost all landowners use their hunting rights. It also denotes Coto intensivo de caza an area of intensive hunting and Coto deportivo de caza area of sporting game hunting that may be used on a regular basis by local hunting organisations and groups.
No hunting is allowed where you see the red sign Zonas de reserva or reserve area.
Hunting or firing a gun is not allowed. This sign also denotes Zonas de seguridad. Security zones in an area where shooting a firearm is not allowed at all due to dangers to public and property.
For example, they are always placed on the field side of a fence if a road is on the other side. Refugio de caza is a game refuge. Vedado de caza means that hunting is forbidden and Reserva ecológica is an ecological reserve area where hunting is not allowed.
A temporary exclusion zone for hunting Zona de exclusión o limitación cinegética permanente. An area of permanent exclusion or limitation of hunting for a specified time.
This could be a transition between an area being a hunting area to a non hunting area or vica versa. No hunting allowed.
A breeding area for game animals Granja cinegética is an area dedicated to the breeding of game animals.
Animals such as rabbit, deer, ibex and partridge are bred in these areas and the animals are then transported and released in hunting areas when there are sufficient numbers.
Hunting for animals bred and released to the area” Escenario de caza.
This is an area where game, often from aGranja cinegética has been released for the purpose of shooting on a particular organised day. This may occur at local fiestas and celebrations.
The written signs that are sometimes found are also colour coded in the same way as the above signs and they are as follows:
- Reserva de caza Green letters on a white background
- Coto privado de caza Black letters on a white background.
- Coto intensivo de caza Black letters on a white background.
- Coto deportivo de caza Black letters on a white background.
- Zona de reserva Red letters on a white background.
- Zona de seguridad Red letters on a white background.
- Refugio de caza Red letters on a white background.
- Vedado de caza Red letters on a white background.
- Reserva ecológica Red letters on a white background.
- Zona de exclusión o limitación cinegética permanente White letters on a red background.
- Granja cinegética Brown letters on a white background.
- Escenario de caza Blue letters on a white background.
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