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News 23 Oct 17

Scavenging Bear Injures Two in Romanian Town

A man and a 14-year-old girl were hospitalised after a scavenging bear injured them in a town in Transylvania, amid reports of a growing number of bear attacks in Romania. 

Ana Maria Touma
BIRN
Bucharest
Romanian brown bear. Photo:Tim Ellis/Flikr

A bear attacked the two victims on the streets of Fagaras in southern Transylvania on Monday morning - the 40th such incident in recent weeks in the region, according to local authorities.

The bear attacked the 14-year-old when she was leaving of her apartment building in Fagaras at 7.30 am on Monday.

The animal bit her hip and scratched her shoulder. The other victim, a 38-year-old man, only suffered scratches.

Bear attacks are relatively common in Romania’s mountain areas, which authorities say host 40 per cent of the total bear population of Europe.

The Fagaras Forest Administration had filed five requests to the Environment Ministry to hunt down a bear that had been seen roaming near the residential area.

The Forest Administration also said it has asked the Environmental Protection Agency to allow it to hunt down five bears in the Brasov and Fagaras region, but several animal rights associations in the area opposed the plan.

Rights associations demand that other solutions are found to prevent the animals from leaving the forest and scavenging in residential neighborhoods.

Bear hunting is only allowed in Romania with a special permit from the Environment Ministry and only in case of a proven emergency. The country banned trophy hunting in 2016.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, Romania needs to take more serious steps towards protecting both big carnivores and local population, starting by conducting a proper census of protected wildlife, setting up a better compensation system for affected property owners and a more transparent system to issue permits to shoot animals deemed dangerous.

In September, the Environment Ministry issued an order allowing local authorities to issue permits for hunting up to 140 bears that will be deemed dangerous after attacks on humans by the end of 2017.  

The latest incident took place in August, when a 28-year-old shepherd in Harghita County, Transylvania, was bitten by a bear that attacked his herd.

Before Monday’s incident, nine people, including a 12-year-old girl, have been hospitalised after bear attacks in Romania. None of the victims died. 

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