Romania, which is home to an estimated 6,000 brown bears, the largest population in the EU, has launched a project to find the real population of these bears, using EU cohesion funds.
The environment ministry and several forest management institutions will get €11 million in funding towards brown bear conservation. “The funds come from the Large Infrastructure Operational Programme, and the census will be performed using digital tools,” said EU projects Minister Cristian Ghinea.
The number of attacks against livestock and people has increased in recent years, after bear hunting was banned in 2016. Bears are now a frequent sighting on streets in many towns and people have been fined in recent days for giving food to wild bears in tourist hotspots.
Following the rise in attacks, the government has recently adopted a decree giving town and city authorities the power to kill dangerous bears. Before last week’s decree, only the environment ministry could issue the permit to hunt a dangerous bear. Under the new regulation, authorities are still required to first chase off or tranquilise the animal before resorting to shooting.
Environmental groups say the government has not done much to protect people and their livestock from bear raids in populated areas, and estimations about the number of animals could be wrong.
(Bogdan Neagu | EURACTIV.ro)