While other parts of Europe struggle with a growing population of wolves, bears have already killed eight people in the past few months in Romania, MEP Loránt Vincze said at a public hearing of the European Parliament on Thursday.
“In the past few months, eight people have died as a result of bear attacks in Hargita, Kovászna, Maros and Brassó counties. Many more have been injured, and the attacks happened near settlements and farmers suffered severe damages,” Vincze said. He added that while a few decades ago bears were on the brink of extinction in Romania, their numbers are now estimated between 6,500 and 10,000, 80 percent of which live in the above-mentioned four Transylvanian counties.
He said that in 2016, the Romanian government banned bear hunting that was intended to keep the bear population in check. Before that, 400 to 500 bears had been hunted every year. Although the bear population is no longer endangered – in fact, it is above what their natural environment can safely sustain – hunting hasn’t been allowed to resume. Recently, there have also been two accidents on average every week in which cars or trains hit bears.
Speaking about a possible solution, Vincze said that the EU’s Habitat Directive does not prohibit rational wildlife management. He proposed that the EU should set aside more funds for the protection of the natural heritage, within which the number of large predators should be assessed more exactly. In parallel with this, the experts should devise a new wildlife management program, beginning with central Romania.
Vincze also said he will invite members of the petition committee to Romania, not to the capital, but to the settlements where people don’t just see bears on television, but in their own backyard.
Title image: MEP Loránt Vincze (RMDSZ)