The scientific evidence and hard data presented during the last two days clearly shows an increase in the Brown bear populations in Romania, yet no one is willing to accept the consequences. This was especially evident from the EU project: LIFE13 NAT/RO/001154 – Life for Bear, presented by the National Forest Research and Development Institute of Romania.
If Romania’s Government is not issuing sufficiently high preventive quotas for Brown bears, signs like the above will need to be placed around the rural landscape of Romania. Despite this, nothing has changed since the 2016 Government decision not to issue harvest quotas for large carnivores.
Is the Government being kept hostage? If yes, by whom? If not, why is there no action? These were the questions being asked in the corridors of the Ministerial Conference on Large Carnivores – Challenges and Solutions, organised by the Ministry of Environment of Romania.
Clearly the current non-lethal management activities in isolation are not solving the problem. Why do we continue to promote them ahead of others? We have a suite of alternative management measures available, yet only a few are being considered.
One presenter spoke of “traditional management measures” and their relevance today in limiting large carnivore conflict in Romania. There has been a long tradition of coexistence between local people and carnivores in the country. Today, the socio-ecological carrying capacity for these species has been exceeded. This has resulted in some locals taking matters into their own hands, including illegal killings through traps, poison, and baiting.
Legal hunting has, for decades been part of the traditional management of large carnivores in Romania. This was one of the key factors that allowed large carnivores to persist in the country over centuries, while other EU States saw them disappear from their landscapes.
Continuing the protectionist approach, and allowing unlimited growth of large carnivore populations, is irresponsible and will lead to more casualties. One death is one too many. Sadly, three people have already died in Romania in 2019 as a result of encounters with Brown bears! This is a human and animal rights issue. How can we continue to sacrifice the lives of humans, livestock and even other protected species when we have the solutions available? Something must be done.
An example of solutions was given by Government representatives from Finland who stated “the experience of Finland shows that we can combine hunting with large carnivore conservation”. This was taken up by the Chair in his concluding remarks in which he emphasised that “harvest quotas for large carnivores, which are backed by science, can reduce damages and conflicts”.