The circumstances in which bears reach areas inhabited by people can be controlled and prevented by the optimisation of emergency interventions, elimination of causes that lead to the bear habituation with man-produced food, implementation of man-bear conflict prevention methods and, not the least, management of effects of climate changes on biodiversity.
“We reiterate these recommendations in the circumstances that the MPs in the Committees on Agriculture and Environment in the Chamber of Deputies will resume tomorrow the debates on the draft amendment of the Hunter Act which involves, among others, the transfer of bears from the annex of strictly protected species to the annex of species that can be hunted in the legal periods or the provision of harvesting/ intervention quotas to prevent damages and accidents in protected species (annex no. 2) at a level at least equal to the multiannual growth rate, in case of excess of optimal populations,” is indicated by a press statement of WWF Romania.
Hunting bears not only will perpetuate the current problems (a large portion of them being also generated by hunting, the “trophy” hunting), but will also deepen them on the long term, in particular if it targets vigorous individuals, which are generally not habituated. At the same time, such measure will also involve the automated opening of the infringement procedure against Romania for the infringement of the EU Directive on Habitats, which is confirmed by the letter recently sent by the European Commission to the Ministry of the Environment and to the Parliament.
The defective management of the bear population in the past 25 years led to the artificial growth of the bear population and, implicitly, to the unprecedented multiplication of direct man-bear conflicts. These realities can only be countered by real, long-term efforts undertaken by local and central authorities, and by all of the other stakeholder groups – managers of hunting areas, forest guards, local communities, farmers, scientists, NGOs, and so on.
“In the context of multiplication of circumstances where bears reach inhabited areas, it should be possible to intervene much easier and faster, so that the life of humans and communities is not endangered. The specific intervention decision must be taken locally in emergency conditions, but in a reasoned and transparent manner, according to the intervention quota established by the public central environment authority. On the other hand, it is essential that we assume the fact that it was us who created this problem, and it is also us who should solve it. It is absolutely necessary to have a careful monitoring of problem or habituated bears, respectively with frequent occurrences. This should consider the causes leading to the current situation, in order to be able to settle the pressing problems immediately, and the others throughout time, in order to make sure that we have a wild bear population instead of a semi-domesticated one”, said Cristian Remus Papp, manager of Biodiversity and Protected Areas with WWF Romania.
WWF Romania organised multiple meetings with experts, representatives of central, county or local authorities, (ministries, environment protection agencies, forest guards, administration of protected areas, mayors), hunters, farmers and NGOs, in order to identify the causes and solutions to decrease the number of man-large carnivore conflicts, including bears. All these stakeholders had and will have the opportunity to discuss the difficulties they face, but more importantly to share their experience and those solutions that proven to be effective.
The proposals of WWF Romania to decrease the man-bear incidence:
The operationalisation of the intervention system (SUAS) in case of problem bears. For example, immediate specific interventions, according to local emergency decisions, according to the intervention quota established by the Environment Ministry. These interventions must be justified and agreed by a local committee and competent authorities, and also transparent (with published status and intervention reports).
The complete termination of complementary feeding of wildlife, as to eliminate an important cause of bear habituation with abundant and easily obtainable food, generated by humans. We recommend that complementary food must be made available only in exceptional circumstances (e.g. very difficult winters) and in a controlled manner;
Continuous monitoring of man-bear conflicts, in particular in areas with high incidence of such cases, and analysis of causes leading to such conflicts;
Implementation of waste collection systems adapted to areas inhabited by bears (e.g., anti-bear dumpsters, more frequent collection of waste, etc.);
More drastic regulation of collection of berries and mushrooms, so that bears are not deprived of an important source of natural food from the forest and decrease the pressure on the habitat;
Effective monitoring, on scientific grounds, of the bear population, with the participation of multiple categories of stakeholders (hunters, researchers, conservationists, etc.);
Implementation of more effective measures to prevent and protect the crops/ livestock/ properties. In the case of bears, the most effective methods prove to be the installation of electric fences and the use of dogs specialised in the safety and protection of livestock (e.g., Carpathian Shepherd Dog, with excellent abilities), doubled by specialised human presence (people trained in the use and maintenance of prevention systems, in order to maximise the success rate)
Campaigns for the notification and education of local communities on the methods to prevent conflict, and rules of conducts and behaviour in bear habitats.