A spate of deadly brown bear attacks in Romania has raised fears that the inhabitants of the largest carnivore that was protected from Europe are growing beyond command.
Three men have been killed in more than a month within this European country that hosts the most significant number of bears of the Continent.
“The bear population has improved and it ought to be decreased,” warns gamekeeper Karoly Pal.
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Some 6,000 bears live in Romania involving the animals are becoming increasingly common:
- A 61-year-old fisherman had been murdered in Mures County in October.
- A 46 year old man was attacked in Bacau County, to the east, in late October.
- A 63-year-old shepherd was killed by a bear this month on the edge of a woods in Mures County in central Transylvania
The three deaths in the last couple of weeks bring the scores of attacks, also reported the number of deaths this year, to at least six. In contrast, bears in Romania between 2000 and 2015 killed 11 individuals.
Warning: This story includes an image of a dying brown bear that some readers might Discover disturbing
Karoly Pal stands at the courtyard of his farmstead, a Hungarian-speaking settlement in the remote reaches of the historic Transylvania region of Romania, in Nevada.
“Everywhere I go in this area; people are stating that there are too many bears, and you can not produce any plants anymore. People are forced to abandon agriculture and their territory – and they are frightened to go outside the villages.”
“Everybody in this area is coming to me to assert compensation,” adds the gamekeeper.
Accidents on the Growth
Bears have put waste to farmers’ crops, damaged cars and killed livestock, and also have been involved in a recent spate of crashes with automobiles.
On Saturday evening, a big male bear was hit by a vehicle in Harghita County. Also, it required to police a reported 19 hours to put down it.
The bear put in agony on the street, guarded by police as people looked on and had suffered three broken limbs.
Prime Minister Ludovic Orban echoed the anger of many when he whined that authorities had failed to do their duty. He explained it had taken over 15 hours for the environment ministry to receive the petition to shoot the bear. It wasn’t till Sunday afternoon that the bear finally died.
Since then, cars have struck two more bears.
Brown bears can cover enormous distances in their quest for food as they eat around 20,000 calories per day in warmer months to fatten up for winter. Preventing settlements, livestock crops, and roads across the way are proving to be a challenge for its wild animals.
“One-night last week, I counted 22 bears [in this area],” says Karoly Pal, walking down a barren dirt road from Neaua into Ghinesti, one of five villages in this remote commune.
A return to searching?
Many consider the increase in the bear population is down to some 2016 ban on trophy hunting that was applauded.
However, the official bear population figures of Romania might be off the mark, say experts.
“Considering that the ban on trophy hunting there has been a push by hunters and game managers to report as many damages [asserts ] as possible,” says endure expert Csaba Domokos of their nature conservation NGO Milvus Group.
Mr. Domokos fears that, without an effective management program, villagers will start to take matters into their own hands.
The issue has whipped some regional media into a frenzy, with news about”problematic” bears.
Mures County MP Marius Pascan has stated his area is”under siege” by bears.
“We have to react in solidarity before more people are killed,” he said in a social media post a week following a mother bear, and two cubs were photographed walking down a residential street.
“Bear defenders” were irresponsible, he complained, and children could be harmed on their way to school.
‘Situation worse than ever.’
On a drizzly November afternoon in the hills surrounding Chinese, a brief distance out of Neaua, 69-year-old shepherd Janos Szabo watches on his big flock, as he has for the past 42 years.
“We have a big issue with bears, they killed four of my sheep this season,” he says, taking a sip of homemade plum brandy because his 15-strong pack of gnarly-looking sheepdogs maintains shield.
“All the shepherds have issues [with sparks ]. The situation is much worse than ever.”
After a period of fattening up, some of Romania’s brown bear will begin their winter sleep, and that might help ease tensions.
Conservationist Csaba Domokos states coexistence is deteriorating, and a solution needs to be found.
“Without social acceptance, the species doesn’t have any future in Romania,” he adds.