The second largest bear population on the European continent (after Russia) lives in the Romanian forests.
It is estimated that this is about 6,000 brown bears, but a scientifically sound census of the brown bear population has not yet taken place.
Nevertheless, since July 2018, the hunt for bears is again permitted, and approved by the government. The previous months had been preceded by media reports of increasing bear attacks on people, settlements and farm animals in some regions of Romania. The World Animal Society criticizes this decision: Instead of releasing the brown bears for shooting, must be set at the true causes of human-bear conflicts.
Brown Bear Hunt – Status Quo
Between 1989 and 2016, several hundred brown bears per year were killed in Romania – plus a high level of unreported killings by poachers. Strong public protest eventually led to the fact that in October 2016, the Romanian Ministry of the Environment suspended the hunting rate for brown bears.
Since then, the media have been reporting an increasing number of attacks from bears to humans. A Romanian local politician argues for Harghita County – located in the northeast of the Transylvania region – to double bear attacks on people, settlements and farm animals to a total of 263 cases within one year!!.
As a primary solution, the Romanian government now plans to launch the brown bears and in July 2018 recognized the brown bear hunt as a permissible measure by approving the National Action Plan. How, when and where this should be implemented is not clear from the National Action Plan. But how is that to be rated from an animal welfare point of view?
Conflicts between man and bear
First of all, it must be stated: Humans do not belong in the prey scheme of a bear. However, when animals approach human settlements, or bears in the wild feel threatened by humans or want to protect their young, conflicts can occasionally occur. The main cause of bear attacks is the man-made habitat loss of the bear.
Habitat loss of the bears
Brown bears are increasingly losing their natural habitat and shelter in Romania. Infrastructural measures, such as road construction, dismantle the habitats populated by bears. On the other hand, illegal exploitation of Romanian forests, such as forest clearing and building permits in national parks, destroys the livelihood of the bears. For example, the Austrian timber company Schweighofer was heavily criticized in 2015 for systematically selling illegally harvested timber for years;
Sanctions and fines for illegal logging were either reduced or abolished by the Romanian government.
The brown bears are consequently expelled from their territories and have to look for other food sources. As a result, the bear continues to advance into areas inhabited by humans, farmers fear for their animals, and refuse bins on the outskirts of villages, which are located near the forest areas, also attract foraging bears.
The resulting conflicts are used as a pretext to justify the shooting or capture of the animals, rather than to address the causes of habitat loss.
The brown bears have been read from their territories and have looked at other sources of food. As a result, the bear continues to fear for their animals, and refuse bins on the outskirts of villages, which are located near the forest areas, so attract foraging bears.
Felling in the Romanian Apuseni Nature Park (archive image, “Spiegel”)
According to a report by “Spiegel” from 16.12.2017 ( http://www.spiegel.de/wirtschaft/soziales/rumaenien-holzt-seine-waelder-ab-holzmafia-nutzt-gesetzesluecken-a-1180739.html ) in recent months, primeval forests in protected national parks have been destroyed several times through utilization, forest clearance and illegal building permits.
Estimation instead of counting the brown bear population
Another reason for the hunt is stated that the domestic forest of its size exclusively provides habitat for 4,000 brown bears.
However, a comprehensive, official bear count has not been used to capture the actual size of the brown bear population.
Instead, the number of 6,000 brown bears is based solely on the estimates of hunting associations. In the past, the regional hunting associations received a launch rate, which was then sold through auctions to private hunting companies worldwide (!!!).
These in turn allowed trophy hunters from all over the world – including Germany – to shoot down bears in Romania.
Should a hunting quota be set by the Romanian Ministry of the Environment in the future, many foreign hunters will return to Romania to hunt for brown bears, probably also many trophy hunters from Germany.
My Comment: When it comes to legalizing the killing of wildlife, the media deliberately confuses effect with cause. Wrong numbers, panic machismo and horror scenarios reach the public.
For many years, the forest in Romania has been ruthlessly cut down. Not only from the indigenous wood mafia, but also from other wood -mafia countries of Europe ( see above the report about the Austrian Holz Mafia “Schweighofer”).
The wooden mafia cleverly exploits leeway and gaps in the law, and corrupt politicians and government officials are covering it. So more and more forest is disappearing and the habitat of the bears and many other animals as well.
And as soon as the animals are forced to search for food in residential areas, the machinery of death begins for them:
the hunters demand higher firing quota, the government approves it because it brings, as hunting trophies, the hunting associations the most money. And every government in this world works hand in hand with hunters. The main thing is that our European parliamentarians just keep their butts on the chair and they do not want to do anything about environmental crimes or control the protection of endangered wildlife.
Result of the story: the “problem” with the bears in Romania, and not only there, is a man-made problem.
In the comments, I read that the Germans are angry with the “corrupt” Romania, because the government has approved the official launch.
Yes , Yes…
… and we shoot the newly arrived wolves out of panic … because they could be dangerous in our walk in the woods!! Other countries need to protect the wildlife, while we’ve flattened everything that lives in the forest here.
My best regards, Venus