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Authorities have decided to allow the killing of over 300 bears, after bear numbers allegedly increased and endangered people's safety.
Romania's Environment Ministry has decided to allow the hunting and killing of 335 brown bears, saying their numbers have grown too fast in recent years in parts of the country.
The decision follows the recent deaths of two people from bear attacks in the woods in a hilly area near the Carpathian mountains.
The most recent attack on Wednesday left a 64-year-old man dead. Earlier a man was killed and two others were injured in a bear attack in the same area, according police.
“There are too many bears in that area and we have to find solutions to relocate them to other parts of Romania or even to other European countries,” the Environment Minister, Rovana Plumb, said.
“Allowing the hunting of bears is just a temporary solution aimed at keeping their numbers under control,” Plumb added.
Hunting bears in Romania is regulated but not outlawed.
The problem is that the size of the bear population is the subject of hot dispute. At the top end, the managers of hunting areas put the figure at 7,800, which means that the country has 40 per cent of the total bear population of Europe, excluding Russia.
The Environment Ministry puts the number at 6,000-6,500, while some NGOs say that there are no more than 3,000 bears left in the country.
Media reports tell of bears wandering through villages and farms, and in some big towns they are sometimes seen eating lastic bags of rubbish, searching for food.
Animal rights activists and conservationists say the problem is not the high number of bears, but authorities’ inability to manage the situation.
“The numbers is officially kept high, in order to justify the controversial business of hunting tourism,” Magor Csibi, from the World Wide Fund for Nature Romania, said.
“Furthermore, the government should have published a map of routes and places where bears live, so that people could be warned and avoid them.”
Hunters from around the world come to Romania because of the relative abundance of wild bears - and they are prepared to pay up to 20,000 euro to bag just one.
Around 300 bears are killed for sport every year, while many others fall victim to poaching.
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