Environmental NGOs protest bear hunting quotas in Romania
The Coalition Natura 2000 Federation, composed of 22 environmental NGOs in Romania, recently protested against a project regarding the reintroduction of hunting quotas for bears, arguing that it has a flawed scientific foundation and does not solve the problem of conflicts with these animals but rather "gives the green light for foreigners to resume trophy hunting in Romania."
The environmental organizations request the withdrawal of the proposal, saying that it targets over 400 large bears that may not represent a danger. They are also concerned over the fact that foreign hunters will also take part in the hunting.
The Coalition Natura 2000 Federation argues that human safety is extremely important and expresses regret for any incidents in which people and their property have suffered. However, they say that the authorities, hunting associations, and environmental organizations should collaborate to build coexistence models that are beneficial both to humans and the bear species.
The NGOs say that the proposal for preventive hunting of bears based on quotas has flawed scientific reasoning and that the implementation of this order could have a long-term impact on the bear population.
“The Ministry of Environment, the institution responsible for biodiversity conservation, along with hunting associations, still believe that reducing human-bear conflicts can be achieved through trophy hunting and by issuing 'prevention' quotas based on partial, unclaimed, unsigned, and scientifically flawed studies. The Coalition Natura 2000 Federation considers the safety of citizens and domestic animals to be a priority over any conservation action, but it cannot support the superficiality, interests, and propaganda behind the foundation of this draft order,” said George Kudor, director of the Coalition Natura 2000 Federation Romania, cited by News.ro.
The Coalition also points out that the ministry is spending money on a national genetic study of bears but is not waiting for the results and is rushing to introduce preventive hunting based on unfounded scientific data.
"We should not view hunting as the only solution to reducing conflicts with bears. We had a similar system until 2016, and the number of damages did not decrease. If the same principle is applied again, we are likely to face the same problems: we will continue to have damages, people injured, and attacks on sheepfolds or households in certain areas. […] No one wants to be in conflict with bears. Human life and property must undoubtedly be protected and defended," said Cristian-Remus Papp, coordinator of the Wildlife Species Department at WWF Romania.
The Natura 2000 Coalition Federation is a partnership of non-governmental organizations in the field of nature protection, providing representativeness and strength at the national level in areas such as protected areas, biodiversity conservation, and the implementation of the Natura 2000 network in Romania. The federation has been informally active since 2003 when 55 nature protection NGOs came together to consolidate their action power at the national and local levels and contribute to the designation of Natura 2000 sites in Romania. Since 2013, the federation has had a legal personality and 22 officially registered members.
On May 4, Romanian environment minister Tanczos Barna announced that he had discussed the order establishing quotas for brown bears that were to be preventively hunted with specialists and representatives of environmental NGOs. He argued that "human life is above everything" and that "the quotas in the draft order are established through a mathematical formula."
"We inputted them into Excel, numbers came out, we rounded them, and those are the quotas. They are not for me, for county X or Y. They are based on the criteria we set from the beginning, what the computer generated. We considered the number of damages, the value of the damages, and the number of attacks on individuals because they reflect this situation. In the field, there may be conflicts that are not reported. There may be damages that have not been reported until now. For those situations, we have a quota for prevention or intervention that can be requested outside the annex," said Tanczos Barna, cited by Digi24.
He also argued that the hunting of bears is regulated in detail and that specimens considered trophies are protected.
However, representatives of NGO Agent Green stated that the order under discussion contains glaring legal, scientific, and moral errors and will exacerbate the problem instead of resolving it. The organization argued that the aim is to shoot 486 bears, predominantly large males, "which aligns precisely with the hunting industry's interests."
Also in response to the new quota, Greenpeace activists urged European parliamentarians to take action to protect biodiversity, not to benefit the hunting industry. Greenpeace calls on authorities to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the situation and implement long-term solutions that prioritize conservation instead of satisfying the demands of hunters, who claim "preventive quotas" for shooting bears.
(Photo source: Calin Stan | Dreamstime.com)