Cows grazing peacefully in the pastures near Gyergyószentmiklós/Gheorgheni, a small Szekler town in Hargita/Harghita County, have not been safe since spring. The number of deadly bear attacks has been much higher than last year, with at least 11 cows killed by bears since mid-May, according to filings submitted by owners to the local authority. And this is just the tip of the iceberg, according to Szabolcs Mezei, who handles the damage requests submitted by the farmers.
In some cases, a bear kills the cattle but doesn’t have time to consume it, while in other cases, the predator won’t move until he has filled his stomach, despite the presence of dogs of even guns.
While damage compensation is provided by the government to affected farmers, the problem is that this compensation is paid by weight according to the price paid by slaughterhouses, which isn’t enough to even cover the cost of buying dairy cattle and takes one to two years to reach the farmer’s bank account.
The legal procedure for a damage request involves a local investigation and must be done in time; otherwise, the person in charge of registering the circumstances of the killing won’t find any evidence, as the bear may return and consume the remains of the cattle.
In many cases, the farmer doesn’t even report the killing – Mezei has heard about five or six such cases – because only those who report the incident on time, as well as up-to-date paperwork about the cattle, are entitled to the damage payment.
Carnivore attacks aren’t news in this area, but farmers and hunters alike maintain that if the government granted a kill order on bears, the number of cattle killings would be much lower. Environmental authorities claim a kill order is justified, Mezei highlights.
Title image: Brown bear.