06 December 2019, 20:57Kathi
Romanian Pro-Hunting MEP Blames Bears for Eight Deathshttps://balkaninsight.com/2019...rs-for-eight-deaths/
Romanian Pro-Hunting MEP Blames Bears for Eight Deaths
Marcel Gascón Barberá Bucharest BIRN December 6, 2019
A Romanian MEP who wants the 2016 ban on bear hunts repealed has claimed that wild bears killed at least eight people in the country's Transylvanian region this year.
A Romanian MEP who wants the current ban on bear hunts repealed has claimed that wild bears killed at least eight people this year in the country’s Transylvania region. Member of the European Parliament Vincze Loránt made this claim to BIRN in a telephone interview.
Vincze on Thursday told the European Parliament he wanted the prohibition on bear hunting in Romania scrapped, saying it was the only way to correct over-population, leading to fatal incidents of human-wildlife conflict.
“Due to overpopulation, the bears chase each other and some of them end up in towns, where they easily find food, get used to humans and keep going back,” Vincze told BIRN on Friday.
The MEP represents the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania, UDMR, the largest ethnically Hungarian party in Romania, which is part of the European Popular Party, EPP.
According to Vincze, Romania has a population of between 6,000 and 10,000 bears, most of them in the four Transylvanian countries where the alleged eight deaths occurred. Every year, he said, between 600 and 700 baby bears are born, adding pressure to a habitat already saturated.
Bears in the region often descend onto farms, agricultural holdings and towns to grab food, including from rubbish bins and containers, or be fed by curious tourists.
The lack of precise statistics about the bear population is a major problem. Vincze has asked the European Commission to fund a monitoring project to count the bears living in Romania and start correcting the population imbalance.
A resumption of legal bear hunting would be very controversial, however, given the highly endangered status of the brown bear in Europe. Numbers may be reasonably healthy in Romania, but bears have been wiped out or reduced to handfuls in most European countries.
In a move widely praised by green organisations, Romania banned bear hunting in 2016. A draft law recently put forward by the former Social Democratic government, scrapping the ban, met protests from environmentalists and awaits a final vote in parliament.
Animal rights activists say the pressure to resume bear kills is coming from hunters’ associations, a contention that Vincze rejects: “We are talking about human deaths; it is about human rights and the situation should be regulated.”
The MEP also denies that rising bear attacks on people are linked to the destruction of forests and not to overpopulation: “In the County of Harghita, for example, the surface of forest has increased by 4 per cent in the last seven or eight years, and bears don’t look for dense forest but prefer areas where vegetation is lower, because they can find fruits and other food more easily.”
Media and residents of the Harghita and the other three Transylvanian counties where bears are concentrated speak of weekly incidents of bears hit by cars or trains when crossing roads and railways.
17 December 2019, 16:19Scott Powell
All I can tell you is three weeks ago we were practically tripping over them in the Carpathians....