WWF has warned that poaching is still a huge threat to large carnivores in Romania, after a brown bear monitored by the organization via GPS-GSM, was found dead in a hunting range belonging to a local hunting association in Maramures, North Romania. Although the association does not have a quota for hunting brown bears this year, the medical report issued by the Sanitary-Veterinary Agency shows that the bear was shot.
The bear is the first of five bears to be monitored by WWF under a project called Open borders for bears in the Carpathians of Romania and Ukraine. The bear was a male of about 6-8 years, weighing 150 kg. It was captured in Strâmbu Băiuţ Forest in June and was know by the code name WWF11621. Over a period of 2 years, the bear would have provided significant information on the places for food, shelter, breeding and migration. Data was provided by the bear until August 30th.
“This bear fell victim to the bad system for management of large carnivores in Romania,” said Cristian-Remus Papp, Coordinator of WWF’s project Open borders for bears in the Carpathians of Romania and Ukraine.
“An event like this should send huge warning signals not only to the authorities responsible for the management of brown bear populations in our country, but also to the European Commission, given the significance of this species for Europe’s natural diversity”.
“Bears in our region are facing enough problems with habitat fragmentation. Poaching puts yet more pressure on them and can jeopardize long-term conservation measures as well as stand in the way of scientific research that is necessary in order to define the most appropriate measures for their protection“, Papp said.
Although WWF representatives promptly informed the management of the hunting range of the bear’s death, the latter did not notify the police immediately. Under its management contract, the hunting range operator is obliged to provide security for wildlife and take all necessary measures to prevent wildlife poaching. The operator also has an obligation to take all legal steps necessary to solve any poaching cases that are discovered.
The Carpathians are the last region in Europe to support viable populations of Europe’s greatest mammals. Brown bear, wolf and lynx can all be found in the forests of the region. On a continent where 40% of mammals are threatened by extinction, the Carpathians offer one of the last opportunities for resettling Europe’s large carnivores.
Open borders for Brown bears
The project is essential for biodiversity conservation in the region, which is in continuous decline due to pressures and focus on economical values over natural ones. The project also aims to develop and implement effective management tools for natural resources in an area of 270,000 ha, to help conserve critical habitats and corridors for bears, as well as ensure sustainable development for local communities.
Initiated by WWF, the project is funded by the European Union, through the Hungary-Slovakia-Romania-Ukraine Cross-border Cooperation Programme 2007-2013. The project is implemented in partnership with the Ukrainian organization RachivEcoTur.
Read more on WWF’s website.