WWF Romania warns of bear cub trafficking

3 months ago

In the wake of a fatal bear attack last month, the Romanian branch of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) warned that there is a black market for bear cubs in the region, with the cubs raised either to be hunted down later or sold as pets. It also asked authorities to stop the practice.

“Given that the practice of “stalking bear caves” is not an isolated phenomenon, we ask the relevant Romanian authorities to act more decisively and proactively against such practices”, WWF Romania said in a press release, adding that according to their information there is an active black market for bear cubs in neighboring Ukraine.

As we reported earlier, last month a bear killed a 35-year-old man near the Transylvanian village of Kőrispatak/Crișeni and the hunting association asked for permission to kill the bear, but the Hargita/Harghita county Environmental Protection Agency said it wanted to observe the behavior of the bear before granting the permission.

According to local police, the victim was both inebriated at the time of his death and the bear – with cubs – only attacked him after the man threw some branches at its lair and having gotten no reaction, approached the lair. After the accident, the president of a local hunting club caught the bear on a short video at the scene of the incident as forced to flee as the bear attacked him.

He said that in his entire career as a hunter he never saw such an aggressive bear.

Recently the Ministry of the Environment – to whom the Hargita county agency was supposed to forward the request to authorize the hunt – said they had no such request on file.

“There is no record of a prior request regarding said specimen. The attack was not provoked by the bear and we are currently interested in knowing whether this specimen is a danger to citizens. According to our information so far, the bear does not exhibit deviant behavior”, ministry spokesman Mihai Drăgan said.