Mother bear murdered in Montenegro

Poachers in Montenegro have shot dead the mother of two young brown bear cubs - a particularly dramatic case of wildlife crime, which has seen a significant increase in the country.

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Although the female bear posed no danger to humans in the forest, she was shot by poachers. For the two cubs, the chances of survival without her mother are poor.

© CZIP

Last week, a family of bears took up residence in the Montenegrin municipality of Berane. One of the cubs fled up into a pine tree in a hotel courtyard where it was then harassed by a number of people who had gathered to watch. A bear emergency team, set up by EuroNatur in order to respond to exactly this type of situation, travelled to Berane from the capital Podgorica and was able to diffuse the situation. During the night, the cub climbed down from the tree and was shepherded by members of the rescue team back to the nearby forest, to which its mother and the other cub had already returned.

Whilst the rescue team remained in the area to check whether the youngster had been reunited with its family, the task force received a terrible message: poachers had shot the cubs’ mother in the forest, 12 kilometres from Berane. As they are not yet two years old, the cubs’ chances of survival are poor. That evening, two suspects were arrested by local police in a village near to the scene.

This latest murder is just one in a whole series of wildlife crimes in Montenegro. Time and again, endangered species such as brown bears, griffon vultures and pelicans are being shot there. Most cases result only in suspended sentences or the imposition of small fines - that is, if the authorities investigate at all. In only one case has a poacher been sentenced to 30 days in prison. Our partners at CZIP, together with numerous other Montenegrin nature conservation organisations, are therefore calling for a five-year hunting moratorium in order to, among other things, reform the law on hunting, strengthen the capacity of the country’s hunting inspectorate and put it under the direct control of the environment ministry.

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