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

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

Layman’s Report 2021

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Life for Bear

OBJECTIVES

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Objectives

  • Updating the management plan of the bear population in Romania in the context of socio-economic development
  • Improving the conservation status of the brown bear population in the Braşov-Prahova Valley conflict area .
  • Optimizing the management of household waste, in order to reduce human-bear conflicts in the Braşov-Prahova Valley area.
  • Transfer of good practice techniques to stakeholders in the conservation and management of the brown bear population.
  • Improving the attitude of local and national interest groups towards the conservation of the brown bear population and the promotion of Natura 2000 sites.

THE MAIN THREATS OF THE BROWN BEAR, WHEN THE PROJECT STARTED, WERE:

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.