Bears will appear more regularly in populated areas

The presence of bears in Maros (Mureș in Romanian) County seems to have become a part of veryday life, as no week passes in the region without a “visit” from the big game. The wild animals wandered around Marosvásárhely (Târgu Mureș) for weeks and are now appearing in smaller and larger villages or towns, near the county capital or in the hills. But despite the constant danger, according to Dănuţ Ştefănescu, the manager of the county environmental protection agency, the presence of bears can be expected even more often until the ministry decides to solve the bear issue, Hungarian newspaper Székelyhon reports.

Just a couple of days ago, a three-year-old bear was run over in Petele (Petelea), while two young cubs were captured in Póka (Păingeni). The couple of month-old cubs were wandering in the yards of the villagers, so they captured them to protect them from dogs. The Milvus Group then transported them to the bear center in Balánbánya (Bălan). But these are just small issues, bears slaughtering lambs or sheep are posted on social media almost every day, Székelyhon reports.

According to a survey in 2020, 800 to 1,200 bears live in Maros County, while the area can support – based on its natural resources – a maximum of 260–280 big game. As Dănuţ Ştefănescu told Székelyhon, the overpopulation of bears, as well as the consequences of the cancellation of the annual hunting quotas, will lead to even more problems.

The manager of the county agency also told Székelyhon that this year four requests have already been forwarded to the Ministry of Environmental Protection, three of which were shooting requests and one for a relocation. Two of these requests were approved: A bear visiting Marosvásárhely was relocated, while the agency received approval to shoot one bear as well.

“It happens very often that a bear is a regular visitor of a settlement, but the local hunting association does not request the shooting or relocation of the animal. It is true that a well-documented request and damages file should be compiled, and this should not scare anyone off. The ministry responds within a week to the requests that we receive, review and forward to them. They might approve the shooting or the removal of the big game, or might not. It may happen that the ministry officials believe that the wild animal poses no real threat to the people, the farms, so they don’t approve the shooting,” the manager of the county agency told Székelyhon.

According to Dănuţ Ştefănescu, an annual hunting quota could be the solution for the bear issue; because the population of the big game is too large, they are forced to leave their normal habitats due to lack of food and more and more often enter populated settlements. However, only the ministry can solve the problem, as only it can institute such a quota.

Title image: Bear cub captured in Póka. The animal was transported by experts to a bear center. Photo: Székelyhon/ Maros Megyei Környezetőrség

Author: Orsi Sarány