Authorities in the eastern Spanish region of Valencia are calling on festival goers not to “lose respect for bulls” after seven people were killed by the animals during this year’s bous al carrer bull-running fiestas.
The ongoing summer festivities – which translate as “bulls on the street”, and which are held in towns and villages across Valencia – have also resulted in more than 300 injuries over the past two months.
The death toll now equals that of 2015, when the high number of fatalities prompted the Valencian government to toughen the legislation governing the fiestas. Current rules forbid the participation of people under 16, and ban those who are physically or psychologically unfit, or drunk or on drugs, from taking part.
An emergency meeting of the bous al carrer advisory committee was held on Monday to “review the current situation of the festivities and to listen to those involved in order to come up with preventive campaigns and more training for clubs and organizers”.
José María Ángel, Valencia’s secretary for safety and emergencies, said: “We can’t lose respect for the bulls because the bulls kill and these festivals carry a high risk.”
The fiestas, he added, were not like going to an outdoor dance or a concert in the village square – “they bring with them an individual and collective risk and so participation requires maturity”.
Ángel said the existing rules – which are frequently reviewed and updated to make them “some of the most exhaustive and restrictive in all of Spain” – needed to be followed.
“It’s very important that whenever a situation that could constitute a breach is detected, immediate measures are taken and the director of festivities or a bull expert is informed,” he said. “If an event has to be stopped or suspended because that’s what the circumstances demand, then that’s what will happen until things get back to normal.”
At the beginning of July, the mayor of the Valencian town of Puçol – where a 12-year-old boy was gored this year – warned of the high bous de carrer accident rate in the area and called on festivalgoers to behave prudently.
“We ask those taking part in the bous de carrer to act responsibly,” said Paz Carceller. “If you’re going into the bull enclosure, do it without drink or drugs for everyone’s sake.”
The Spanish animal rights party Pacma said that nothing short of a total ban on bull festivals would end the suffering of humans and animals alike.
“Any measure taken that isn’t the prohibition of all bull festivals will be useless,” he said in a statement. “These events are based on extreme cruelty and violence, and, as such, are an authentic torture for animals and a huge danger to all people. This is about archaic traditions that foment violence and poison society.”
Six people were gored – none of them fatally – and more than 80 others injured at Pamplona’s famous annual bull-running festival last month.