Illegal garbage dumps cause conflicts with bears

Illegal garbage dumps near settlements are not only a problem for the soil and the environment. They often attract brown bears. Being omnivores, the bears find easily accessible food there and thus lose their shyness towards humans. This can be dangerous for animals and humans - as is currently the case in North Macedonia.

beehives with a fence

Beehives can be made bear-proof with little effort, as here in Spain.

© Kerstin Sauer
bear protectors and anesthetized bear

Members of a bear intervention team in action, here in Bosnia-Herzegovina

© CZZS

At present, there is a growing number of reports from the Mavrovo National Park in North Macedonia saying that bears have been spotted in and around settlements. Demands for shooting them are getting louder, three dead bears have already been found. EuroNatur and its partners in North Macedonia from MES argue against these shootings. Instead, illegal garbage dumps must be eliminated, and official waste sites have to be made “bear-proof”. Animal herds and beehives must also be protected: Electric fences, guard dogs and scare measures are proven methods to keep bears away. To shoot bears, which are protected throughout Europe, is not an option.

Besides, North Macedonia lacks long-term monitoring that shows how many bears are living in the region. Shootings could cause the collapse of the population. That's why EuroNatur is advocating for cross-border bear monitoring in North Macedonia, Albania, and Greece within the framework of the Tripoint Border Project (TBB). Sustainable bear management and solution-oriented cooperation with the local population are only possible on the basis of reliable figures.

There are already intervention teams of brown bear experts in some south-eastern European countries which intervene in case of incidents with bears. These teams can react appropriately and promptly to avoid undesirable consequences for animals and humans. The TBB project supports the EuroNatur partners in the region in setting up more of these teams in their partner countries.

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