Protecting bears in Croatia

Building bridges - securing survival

© Dietmar Nill
© Dietmar Nill

An investigation into the state of the bear population in Croatia, which was carried out in 2008 in consultation with Croatian hunters' associations and the Ministry of Culture responsible for nature conservation, produced a surprisingly positive result: there are probably more than a thousand brown bears in Croatia.

EuroNatur is making an important contribution to this positive development in the bear population. Our project partners here are at the University of Zagreb and it has been a question of developing and implementing concepts to enable us to limit or avoid the negative impact on bears of transport routes. For it is not just the direct shooting of bears that makes survival hard for the bear population: Collisions with vehicles and the fragmentation of the bears' habitat through the construction of roads and railway tracks both represent a major threat.



What actions is EuroNatur taking to protect the bears in Croatia?

  • Creating a knowledge base: Working with the University of Zagreb we have developed a monitoring system to collect and document information on the distribution and density of the bear population and on the way of life of the brown bears.
  • Developing effective protection concepts: We support the development of management plans and put together packages of measurements to secure the survival of bears in Croatia in the long term.
  • Building bridges: In order to secure a stable bear population in Croatia in the future EuroNatur is working with the University of Zagreb on the development of practical concepts to help limit or avoid the negative impact on bears of major transport routes. One example is to build wildlife crossings such as “green bridges”. Read more on the EuroNatur project Trans-European Wildlife Networks (TEWN).
  • Diffusing potential conflicts before they arise: EuroNatur promotes measures to prevent problems between bears and humans from occurring at all, as for example the protection of herds by special guard dogs or the use of bear-proof rubbish bins and dumps.
  • Reacting to signs of trouble: EuroNatur has supported the training and equipping of a bear task force which follows up every tip it receives about dead or dangerous-seeming bears and documents all evidence carefully.

 


What we have so far been able to achieve- a selection of important successes

  • EuroNatur and its Croatian partners have been able to give striking proof of how much the negative impact of traffic routes can be softened by the use of wildlife crossings such as green bridges, viaducts and tunnels along the motor-way between Zagreb and Rijeka. The data collected is so convincing that it has been possible to secure the inclusion of numerous further green bridges for new Croatian motor-ways in planning.
  • We have created a bear management plan for Croatia.


Partners: The Faculty of Veterinary Medicine University of Zagreb and HED ( Croatian Ecological Society)

Sponsoring: EuroNatur donors and sponsors


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