To celebrate Bear Day!

The Bear

The relationship between man and bear is a complex combination of respect, fear and fascination, intertwined in myths, folklore and religion across Europe. In Romania, they are a symbol of strength, good luck and changing of the seasons, being part of many rituals and traditions. Despite this, they are increasingly the subject of controversy and conflict.

Bear alarms via text and the often one-sided reporting from the media, exacerbate the fear and fuel the opinion that there are too many bears in Romania – for which there is no scientific basis. If you talk to shepherds or people who coexist with bears, they often react more relaxed than most people who have never seen a bear (people fear what they don’t know). That is not to say problems do not exist, as our interviews have shown that farmers are hardly ever compensated for the loss of livestock. Whilst in the emerging ecotourism sector, the bears walk the line between being a reason to visit and a warning not to visit. Deforestation, fences and fragmentation of the landscape are causing bears to lose habitat and encroach further and further into human environments where, improper waste disposal and even feeding of bears causes them to lose their fear of people. There are many issues that can be resolved and would lead to a more harmonious coexistence.

In terms of ecology, being an apex predator, the bear plays a crucial role in the balance of the ecosystem. Its broad diet as an omnivore, means it does not only keep prey populations under control, but also serves a role as a seed disperser. For much of the year they are in fact feeding on grass (as seen in the video), roots, berries and fruit. Most people think all bears hibernate for the winter, however in our region it is mainly just the pregnant females that ‘den’ to give birth to the young. Some other bears will go into a state of dormancy for very cold periods, but we have seen bears on our camera traps in every month of the year. This is thought to be more and more commonplace as winters are becoming shorter and less harsh.

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