“Project supported by the LIFE+ Programme of the European Union”

Useful for bear interventions

Action Plan for the conservation of the brown bear population in Romania

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Life for Bear

LIFE PROJECT

Conservation of the Brown Bear (Ursus arctos) population in Romania

LIFE FOR BEAR – LIFE13 NAT/RO/001154

 

Implementation period: oct 2014-oct2019 (prolonged: dec2021)

This project is funded by the European Commission through the LIFE + Natura 2000 program and is implemented by the National Institute for Research and Development in Forestry “Marin Dracea” – Brasov Resort, (former ICAS), as coordinating beneficiary, in partnership with the Ministry of Environment, Carpathian Foundation, Bucegi Natural Park Administration, Kronstadt Local Forests Public Administration RA, Râşnov Forest District RA as associate beneficiaries.

This project started in an innovative way, bringing in addition to what was previously applied, an integrated vision of a complex management of bear-man conflicts, by testing new methods, improving those previously applied, respectively optimizing the necessary solutions to reduce conflicts. The results will lead to the identification of effective means to reduce the negative impact of urban development on the conservation of the bear population and improve the education of the general public on the protection of this species, having an effect on all habitats and species in the area.

 

PROJECT PROGRESS

The project ″ Conservation of the brown bear population (Ursus arctos) in Romania ″ started on 03.10.2014 and is being implemented still. The completion period for some actions had to be extended. The new deadline for completion of the project is 31.12.2021. The project did not encounter major technical difficulties in achieving the objectives of the actions, but there were some delays in achieving deliverables, delays that do not affect the overall progress of the project.

During the implementation of the project, political / administrative changes took place within the decision-making institutions directly involved in the management of the brown bear species. Along with the political / administrative changes, there have been changes in the attitude of people who carry out activities regarding the bear species and / or its habitat and the attitude of people whose activities are influenced by the presence and actions of bears. At the same time, the media attention has increased on issues related to the bear species, so the management of this species in Romania has created controversy and has become a very sensitive topic for several groups: people who have to coexist with the brown bear species, animal lovers who do not live in areas visited by bears, game fund managers, hunters, public administrations, environmental activists, researchers, conservationists.

In 2018, the Ministry of Environment demonstrated an active participation by getting involved in the implementation and approval by OM 625 / 28.06.2018 of the “Action Plan for the conservation of the brown bear population (Ursus arctos arctos) in Romania”. The action plan, developed within the C1 activity, integrates elements from the project actions. The Ministry of Environment submitted a project and obtained POIM structural funds to implement actions from this Plan. The project “Implementation of the National Action Plan for the conservation of the brown bear population in Romania”, SMIS Code 136899, is carried out between 08.07.2021 – 31.12.2023, by the beneficiary Ministry of Environment, Waters and Forests, in partnership with the National Directorate of Forests ROMSILVA, National Institute for Research and Development in Forestry Marin Drăcea and Local Public Management of Forests Kronstadt RA. With the implementation of this large-scale project, sustainability is ensured, by replicating and transferring the actions of the LIFE FOR BEAR project.

The main threats of the brown bear in the project area are:

1.INEFFICIENT MANAGEMENT OF HOUSEHOLD WASTE

When bears are feeding from the household waste, in many cases, they consume the leftovers with packaging (example: in 2005, a mother bear with four cubs died due to intestinal obstruction).

The existence of easy accesible household waste determined the formation of a deviant behavior of bears, so it was found that in these critical areas the period of winter sleep was reduced, there are bears that frequent garbage collection sites all winter.

Monitoring of specimens that frequent the garbage storage areas showed that most specimens are females with cubs.

The cubs automatically learn their mother’s behavior and in the following years return to the periphery with their offspring. Our observations also showed that some of the specimens that frequent these areas have common descendants.

2.UNORGANIZED TOURISM

Although forestry legislation provides for sanctions for unauthorized entry into the forest, the use of motor vehicles is an increasingly form of recreation.

3.CONFLICTS IN SHEEP FARMS, ORCHARDS, APIARIES

During the summer, the sheepfolds located in the submontane and mountainous area generate a high number of human-bear conflicts. The attack of the bear on the livestock can lead to injury to humans or bears. Against the background of gaps in the legislative framework and the compensation system, man is trying to protect his property. Also, grazing in the forest and the use of uncompetitive guard dogs is another cause of the large number of losses among domestic livestock. The most common methods of poaching bear specimens are the use of snare mounted in trees or on the ground, poisoning by impregnating sheep carcasses with chemicals or toxic plant extracts, shooting, etc.

The same poaching methods are used in the case of conflicts in orchards and apiaries, their magnitude being smaller. The frequency of these cases is higher in the summer-autumn period.

4.DECREASE IN TROPHIC SUPPLY

The application in recent decades of forestry treatments that promote shade species and limit clear-cutting, has led to a direct and indirect decrease in the trophic supply for the brown bear. Thus, by isolated cuttings of trees with large diameters or by cuttings in small meshes (area less than 0.5 ha) are promoted only shade forest species, the installation of other light species, herbaceous, shrubs (Vaccinium sp., Rubus sp., Sambucus nigra, etc.) and trees (Corylus avellana, Sorbus aucuparia, Prunus sp., Salix sp.) that are part of the bear’s diet are only sporadic.

In addition to the direct action (limiting the trophic supply) on the brown bear, the application of forestry treatments according to current forestry norms also has an indirect negative impact by reducing the trophic supply for ungulate populations [Red Deer (Cervus elaphus), Roe Deer (Capreollus capreollus), Wild Boar (Sus scrofa)].

Insufficient  management of areas specifically intended for game food contributes to reducing the trophic supply for the brown bear population in the study area and leads to increased human-bear conflicts by moving feeding sites near anthropogenic areas (animal farms, orchards, crops, etc.).

Thus, due to the lack of care for the food surfaces for hunting and for focusing only on ensuring the food of the ungulate populations, important sources of food for the bear are lost not only from a quantitative point of view but also from a qualitative point of view, especially in terms of diversity.

5.THE MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE BEAR SPECIES IS NOT UPDATED

Since the elaboration of the management plan, Romania has known an explosive development of the infrastructure.

Holiday homes have multiplied, as have the number of off-road vehicles, motorcycles, ATVs, and motorized sleds.

In some areas, agricultural work has intensified and / or the number of domestic animals has increased, with undesirable effects on grazing activity in the bear area (domestic animals often graze in the forest).

The aim is to include in the management plan the measures necessary to reduce the impact of new threats and adapt it to the current situation.

6.NEGATIVE ATTITUDE OF SOME COMMUNITIES / FARMERS

In the project area, many of the farmers have a negative attitude towards the bear, due to the conflicts it can generate.

Local communities in rural areas are very little informed about the conservation status of the bear and the benefits of nature conservation in general.