Hargita (Harghita in Romanian), Maros (Mureș), Kovászna (Covasna) and Brassó (Brașov) Counties suffer the most from the ongoing Romanian bear problem, and in their despair, the councils of the counties are asking for the help of the European Union. County Council Presidents, Ferenc Péter from Maros, Csaba Borboly from Hargita, Sándor Tamás from Kovászna, and Gabor Alexandru-Adrian, vice president of the council in Brassó, signed a petition on Tuesday at a press conference held in Sepsiszentgyörgy (Sfântu Gheorghe), capital of Kovászna County. The politicians will submit the signed document to the European Parliament’s Committee on Petitions (PETI), hoping that the EU will “encourage” the Romanian authorities to solve this dangerous situation. Lórand Vincze, MEP of the Democratic Alliance of Hungarian in Romania (RMDSZ), agreed to represent the cause to the European Commission.
The ongoing bear attacks affect mostly the above-mentioned four counties. The presidents and vise president of these county councils said at the press conference that local and county authorities should have decision-making powers on the issue. In the petition, the politicians requested the necessary conditions for the protection of human life and property in those areas of Romania where the bear population represents a danger.
“Two thirds of Europe’s bear population lives in Romania, and there are three times as many bears in our regions that are in the papers. Of this 10,000 strong population, 80 percent live in these four counties,” Sándor Tamás said at the press conference. He added, they are asking for three things from the Romanian government: real data about the bear population, an intervention quota to be able to shoot the dangerous animals and control the stock via hunting; and quick and fair compensation for the damage caused by the big game. He also said that for years farmers have not receive any compensation from the government. According to the council president, the conflicts are caused by bears that are used to looking for food in populated areas, and the number of dangerous bears is growing exponentially.
Csaba Borboly said at the press conference that Hargita County Council did everything it could, in accordance with its powers, to solve this problem. According to the council president, bears can be a threat to households and, in many cases, to human life. “Just this year, seven people were killed by bears, and 20 people from Hargita County were in emergency care due to bear attacks. This is unacceptable! Not to mention the accidents caused by bears crossing the roads and railways,” he added.
Csaba Borboly, who initiated this petition, thinks that the passive attitude of the Romanian Ministry of Environment is unacceptable; that is why they are asking for the help of the EU. He said that by using this petition, the institutes in Brussels may be able to “encourage” the ministry to take some steps to solve this dangerous situation.
Gabor Alexandru-Adrian said at the press conference that bears enter most of the towns and villages in Brassó County. He specifically mentioned Viktóriaváros (Victoria), where a child was attacked in broad daylight and the ski resort Brassó Pojána (Poiana Brașov), where bears are causing problems every day. He also mentioned that they saw a bear with five cubs in Brassó County; this unusual “family” surprised international experts as well. Alexandru-Adrian said that they have no idea how many bears live in their region, and local authorities have no powers to solve this issue.
Péter Ferenc spoke about the social perception of the bear problem. He thinks it is unacceptable that a bear left injured on a road for 18 hours gets more attention than a man who was killed by a bear. He thinks that, due to poor legislation, no one dared to make any decision. He pointed out, that killing a bear automatically leads to criminal prosecution; a bear is worth EUR 40,000. But if a bear kills a man, there are no consequences.
MEP Lórant Vincze stated at the press conference that there is no applicable European model to solve this issue, as two thirds of the European bear population lives in Romania. This very unique situation calls for a unique solution, he pointed out. Vincze promised, as a member of PETI, he will represent this case in the European Parliament. “We need to make it very clear to the European Parliament and the European Commission that this situation needs an urgent solution. Once the petition has been submitted, we will have the opportunity to invite the members of the Committee on Petitions, the European Commission, and EU experts to personally examine this untenable situation,” he explained.
Tilte image: Péter Ferenc, Sándor Tamás, Gabor Alexandru-Adrian, and Csaba Borboly at the press conference. Photos: János B. Kocsis