Former minister to submit bill for quota-based hunting of bears in Romania
Former environment minister Tanczos Barna, presently a senator in the Romanian Parliament, is set to submit a bill aimed at regulating the control of the brown bear population, including the reintroduction of hunting based on a quota.
Barna greenlit some bear hunting quotas as his last act as minister, planning for 480 bears to be eliminated. The new minister of environment, Mircea Fechet, said he would issue a new order regarding the prevention and intervention quotas for the brown bear population, which will target 220 animals.
UDMR senator Tanczos Barna, now part of the opposition, wants the bill to have the support of all parliamentary groups. The legislation is set to be submitted next week in Parliament after obtaining over 100 signatures from all parties.
"We have started collecting signatures for the bill in which we propose the introduction of strict measures for controlling the brown bear population in Romania based on studies conducted by research institutes and universities in Romania. We also have some data from the genetic evaluation study of the brown bear population in Romania. [...] Other parties also see how serious this problem is, and representatives of other parties see the need for a science-based but firm intervention to protect human life and to have scientific control based on studies over the brown bear population in Romania," said Tanczos Barna, cited by HotNews.
Several bears were hunted already “because they were aggressive,” Barna says, according to regulations put in place by UDMR during its time in government. The package of laws and regulations, however, is incomplete, according to the senator, requiring immediate intervention and hunting quotas, among other things. He argues that “thousands of bear specimens live in overpopulated habitats,” endangering human lives.
The new bill faces strong opposition from environmental NGOs like Agent Green and the Coalition for Animal Rights in Romania. They are concerned about the persecution of the brown bear species, which has reached unprecedented levels, and they directly accuse Tanczos Barna of the situation created during his tenure as a senator and former minister of the environment.
The two ministers prior to Barna, social democrat Grațiela Gavrilescu and liberal Costel Alexe, took significant steps to implement a plan for the conservation of bears, but Tanczos Barna completely blocked it during his term as minister, between December 2020 and June 2023, the NGOs argue.
“In this context, the Coalition and animal protection associations disapprove of senator Tancozs Barna's current initiative in the Romanian Parliament to promote a law that would reintroduce trophy hunting of bears,” the environmental NGOs say in a joint press release.
They also argue that discussions regarding the legislative proposal did not include representatives of civil society and were therefore illegal.
The Coalition believes that the legislative project should be stopped, and instead, a parliamentary inquiry should be initiated into the negative effects on bears and humans resulting from Tanczos Barna's activities.
"[Barna’s] bill not only shows desperation but also his main objective in national politics, an obsession with opening trophy hunting of bears. [...] If the Parliament does not react, we will sue the ministry for not implementing the Plan [for the conservation of bears] and report Barna to the DNA (National Anticorruption Directorate) because of all the bloodshed of bears, humans, and domestic animals is on his hands," announced Gabriel Păun, president of Agent Green and representative of the Coalition for Animal Rights.
Last week, preliminary results of the bear census based on genetic samples were made public, showing that thousands of bears in Romania do not have adequate habitats. The study indicates that despite national efforts, evidence was found for the existence of only 3,000 bears, much fewer than previously believed.
"The study does not show anything about the age and gender structure of the species but only a preliminary population size that worries us. The most likely interpretation of the preliminary results is that, in addition to habitat destruction and climate change, human persecution is the greatest threat to bears. They are not numerous at all, but very harassed and desperate," concluded Păun.
The environmental NGOs have found allies in the Romanian Parliament. Opposition MP Cătălin Teniţă showed support, in a Facebook post, for the initiative to request a parliamentary inquiry commission regarding Barna’s actions.
(Photo source: Inquam Photos | George Calin)