Aug 272017
 


On August 7, footage surfaced in international media of brown bears “besieging” a Romanian village. The clip shows the animals scavenging for food in trash bins, walking through the town, and running past bewildered pedestrians.

Unfortunately, images like these can invoke fear among the public and play very well into the hands of those who seek to justify the slaughter of bears (and other carnivores) in Romania.

The relationship between these predators and humans has always been complex; on the one hand, they are vilified in folklore (i.e. the wicked wolf in the “Little Red Riding Hood”) and on the other are depicted with curiosity rather than fear (i.e. the three bears in “Goldilocks”).

In Eastern Europe bears are hunted both fall and spring, but spring is generally considered better. This bear was taken in Romania in early May.

Sadly, the former narrative seems to be prevailing as the Romanian Ministry of Environment is slated to sign an order permitting the lethal take of 140 brown bears and 97 wolves. The trophy hunting industry, which wants to guide foreign hunters on lucrative hunting trips for huge sums of money, desperately wants to play a part in the killing.

A bear trophy hunt in Romania can cost more than €1,400 (U.S. $1,650) and a wolf trophy hunting more than €3,000 ($3,500).

Credit: Agent Green/Levente Peter

Credit: Agent Green/Levente Peter

Credit: Agent Green/Levente Peter

A much needed but apparently short-lived reprieve for these animals came in October of 2016 when the Romanian government announced a prohibition on the trophy hunting of brown bears, wolves, lynx, and wild cats. This decision saved at least an estimated 1,700 animals. Yet less than a year later, undoubtedly in response to heavy lobbying efforts from the livestock ranching and trophy hunting industry, the Ministry of Environment is poised to lift part of this ban.

Although an EU law known as the Habitats Directive prohibits the hunting of all four species, it also allows for “derogations” (i.e. lethal measures) in cases of threats to human safety and property. Such derogations are the golden ticket for resentful livestock owners and trophy hunting businesses. For them, the solution is clear: strike fear into the hearts of the public against Europe’s large carnivores. Romania is not the only battlefield where this is playing out, with countries like France, Norway, and others using controversial lethal population control.

Bears and wolves are particularly susceptible to selective removal because they invest heavily in just a few offspring and disruption of social stability (i.e. when family members are killed) can seriously undermine survival rates. These animals already face an endless barrage of threats like continued incursion of humans into their habitat, climate change, and reduced prey availability. Adding human persecution into this deadly mix is “super additive,” meaning the ultimate harm to the population is far greater than the killing of just one “problem” individual.

Ironically, such ruthless persecution of Europe’s last remaining wild carnivores in the name of reducing conflicts will likely have the reverse effect, only increasing threats to safety, livestock, and property. Why? The answer lies in the social dynamics of these animals. With wolves, for example, packs reduced in size may become less efficient as hunters, thus necessitating an increased number of attacks on livestock. Further, wolves may compensate for loss of the pack by intensifying reproduction and requiring more food to feed their young. On the other hand, selective killing of individual wolves may be devastating for wolf population dynamics because it eliminates key breeders, changes the packs’ evolutionary potential, and thus increases the risk for population extinction.

So what is the solution if not lethal culling or hunting? Co-adaption and coexistence are key if carnivores are to persist. Humans must be willing to share the habitat and tolerate the small level of risk these animals pose. Even a child understands that bears are attracted to food, which is why communities in bear habitat must have bear-proof waste management (not currently the practice as revealed in last week’s video where rubbish bins are completely open). Varieties of audio and visual deterrents are also widely available.

When it comes to livestock depredation, a selection of non-lethal methods such as range riders (individuals that supervise the herd), electric fencing, and fladry (a line of rope mounted along the top of a fence, from which strips of fabric or colored flags are suspended), have proven much more effective than lethal measures.

Sadly, the Romanian government is making insufficient effort to encourage such co-adaption, protect critical habitat, and discourage needless persecution.

Romania must hold strong in its commitment to protect brown bears, wolves, lynx, and wild cats. Yes, the pressure from special interest groups may be high but the stakes are even higher. These carnivores are key to Europe’s ecosystem and the declining health of these populations will have far-reaching and devastating impacts. So the answer is not to kill, but instead maintain a ban on the killing of Romania’s wild carnivores.

Credit: Agent Green/Levente Peter

Masha Kalininais an International Trade Policy Specialist with Humane Society International (HSI). Specializing in wildlife trade, Ms. Kalinina advocates for strong wildlife protections for a variety of animals under the environment chapters of free trade agreements, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, the U.S. Endangered Species Act, and the International Polar Bear Forum, among others. Ms. Kalinina also leads the HSI campaign to end the inhumane and unsustainable practice of trophy hunting. Prior to HSI, she worked for Booz Allen Hamilton providing consulting services for U.S. government clients. Ms. Kalinina earned her Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) from The George Washington University and her law degree from the William and Mary School of Law.

Gabriel Paun’s biois a Romanian biologist and President of the nature conservation nonprofit, Agent Green. He has B.Sc. in Ecology and M.Sc. in Ecotourism. His previous work experience includes Greenpeace, Four Paws, Animals International, among others. For many years Gabriel has campaigned for forest protection, working to ban logging in National Parks and to protect Europe’s last intact forest landscape. In 2009, he founded Agent Green. Agent Green investigates and exposes environmental crimes, while promoting solutions for the preservation of nature to ensure the well-being of future generations. For his extensive work in protecting Europe’s forests and nature, Gabriel received the EuroNatur Award in 2016.

Credit: Agent Green/Levente Peter

This article was first published by National Geographic on 15 Aug 2017.


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Killing for fun and paying for that kill. It is insane. People who like that have a sadistic nature. It is so wrong!

Barbara Sharp

Yes don’t hunt bears or wolves

Pauline Mitchell

Animals need far more protection from hunters. They have no right to murder animals for glory and a moment of pleasure!

Roscow de Boissiere

this needs to be stopped as there will be Nothing left for the future and man will totally wipe out all that is on this earth for a reason . It is called the circle of life .

Kanet davina

All hunting should be banned. .we. have lost kind in HUMANKIND

Anda Z

YES, ALL HUNTING SHOULD BE BANNED.

Minkelric Green

I wish I could hunt people who hunt animals

Jill Piperno Gallager

I do not think an animal should be killed so you can mount their head on their wall. there are other hobbies you can do, try skiing instead!!!!

Polina Parfenova

Ban trophy hunt everywhere! This cruel madness must be stop!

Kathleen Bernz

Ban ALL trophy hunting!

Alexander Roberts

Yes (99%, 863 Votes)

Silvana Martinez

Banned without question

Peter Fay

If bears and wolves are a problem around your garbage bins, then you should re-locate the bins to the furthest point away from your house and if possible put them in a metal cage to stop the animals from destroying the bins. Better still, STOP putting food into the bins! At least until the collection day. If you do not attract them with food smells then they will not trouble you!

Carol Noelle Lalouelle

ordure !

Brigitte Bravaccini

Time to hunt all Hunters…….Karma……

Claire Vinet

Yes, of course. Is that a trick question?

Felipe Ortega

10000000000000000000000000 oui

Francoise Gross

Yes

Suzanne Cosner

Lets all be honest here…Hunting for fun is sociopathic way of thinking. Would we let the home of the guiding hands run free to do whatever they please if they were rich???

Wendy Henry Beyda

Humans need to stop kiling innocent beings for fun or sport. We all share this planet and humans need to respect other life, not do whatever we feel like!!

Gary Holler

Yes.

Paul Troalic

Signed.

Neegweema Makwa

Killing for sport rather than subsistance is not only immoral but is also a threat to our own existence. Carnivores are necessary for the vitality of the ecosystem. Eliminating predators does not make our world safer, it unravels the entire food chain.

Lesley Blissett

You are so right Neegweema, but so few, especially those in power either do not recognize this or choose to ignore the facts. This is so sad and so much damage will be done, perhaps permanently as often it is too late before our leaders sit up and take notice!

Anita Pinelli Phillips

We’re going to destroy these animals & for what? A trophy on some slimeball’s wall? Wake up people! Once they’re gone, they’re gone forever! There’s no bringing them back!

Joelle Jojo Mamour Barrier

oui !!!

Ruzena Vinarcikova

Ešte raz áno Ty idiotska špina

Ruzena Vinarcikova

Áno

Valerie Maclean

Sick sport.

Evelyne Dompmartin

yes

Argie Wilson
All hunting should be banned. Killing an animal is not a sport. A person who kills an animal is a murderer. Children or teenagers who abuse, torture or kill an animal get a thrill, and end up killing people when they grow up. . So please don’t find pleasure in killing, life is too prescious even for an animal. They are not here for us to use and abuse. We just coexist. We simply evolved at the same time. An animal only kills to eat. We kill for pleasure. Therefore animals are better than us. We should respect, admire, or… Read more »
Shari Ranger

All living beings have the right to be free of suffering & murder!

Lillian Winter

Trophy hunting is evil and cruel. People who get pleasure from hunting are mentally ill.

Lo Thomas

Please ban this barbaric sport

Karen Lyons Kalmenson

ALL trophy hunting should be banned!!!!

Cathy Nolane

oui

Lili Bertine

ft

Isabelle Fernandès

sondage en fin d’article – La chasse au trophée des ours et des loups devrait-elle être interdite?
Oui (98%, 598 Votes)
Non (1%, 9 votes)
Ne sait pas (0%, 1 Votes)
Nombre total d’électeurs: 608

Janet Cameron

Ban hunting of any kind

Charlene Krist Klauck

These idiots get thrills and self satisfaction in killing these innocent animals. This must stop. There is nothing but evil as the out come of what they are doing!

Debb Antona Donham

Charlene Krist Klauck – I agree completely. Karma is a hitch.

Debb Antona Donham
Frank Gregory

Should be banned outright no ifs or buts, take a camera not a gun.

Lesley Blissett

There is much more skill in taking a good photograph, I really admire wildlife photographers, their devotion to their craft is total, they are exceptional people, whereas, I HATE HUNTERS AND TRAPPERS WITH A VENGEANCE!!!

Rikki Salty

stop shooting!

Sue Clifford

Not just bears and wolfs but all wildlife. There is no purpose and don’t give me the excuse of conservation of the species. That is just a means to justify murder.

Margaret McLennan

Trump? Duh

Jye Kirkland

American idiot ! Such a weak looser Eco systems much more important to have vs ignorant minority shooting anything moving

Kerry Dehker

No it’s fine as long as we get to hunt the people who do The Killing I mean we have to be fair after all of course we should stop it what the fuck is wrong with people’s heads

Olga Vagena

Yes

Deborah Portwood

Sshole ….Well duh …#itsfincruel

Eleanor Carlton

yes

Nancy Burnett Ferrell

Hell yes

Heidi Johnstone

HELL YES IS SHOULD BE BANNED, IF MEN NEED TO KILL AND GET A TROPHY TO GET A HARD-ON, THERE ARE PILLS AND INSTITUTIONS FOR THAT…LOCK THE SICK BASTARDS UP, BOTH TRUMPS SONS.

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