On September 25th, Romania’s Senate passed a bill under which – for a period of five years – hunting brown bears is no longer restricted to annual quotas approved by the Environment Ministry. The bill is intended to reduce human conflict with bears, but global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS warns Romania against the fatal impacts the new law will have on the nation’s biodiversity and ecosystems. Without a detailed and independent scientific assessment of the bear population in Romania, such measures could have catastrophic consequences for the wild population and instigate a bear massacre. Therefore, FOUR PAWS has started a global petition to call on the Romanian government to reject the proposal.
With an estimated 7,000 bears, Romania has the largest bear population in Europe. According to FOUR PAWS, the soon-to-be-introduced hunting law could change that. So far, it has been legal to kill 600 brown bears in Romania each year. However, for the next five years there will be no restrictions.
“This law is an infringement to the European legislation that places bears in the list of species with strict protection since 1953 and whose conservation requires the designation of special conservation areas. Romania must uphold European Directives and protect bears and large carnivores. We prompt the Romanian government to urgently reject this irresponsible law, which will lead to mass killing of bears.”Ioana Dungler, Director of Wild Animals at FOUR PAWS
Human-bear conflict as reasoning
The introduction of the new law is due to the ongoing and emotionally-charged debate on human-bear conflicts in Romania. Illegal logging has reduced and fragmented brown bears’ natural habitat, which has led to bears intruding onto human territories looking for food. “The Senate’s proposal has no scientific backing and is not an effective solution to the problem. We want the Romanian government to release official statistics and put forward scientific data on bears in Romania that would contribute to passing new laws,” said Dungler.
FOUR PAWS has started a global petition to call on the Romanian Chamber of Deputies to reject the proposal. Please sign it here.
Featured image: a female brown bear with her cubs in Romania. Image credit Pieter Edelman, CC BY-SA 2.0.