Killing wolves and bears is the only solution to solve human-wildlife conflicts, says the Romanian Ministry of Environment. This statement comes just one year after the ministry cancelled their plan to kill 552 bears, 657 wolves, and 482 wildcats in 2016. At that time, more than 5.000 people requested the ministry to stop these actions.

Back then, the Romanian government promised to take action by creating the Wildlife Emergency Service. Its staff is supposed to protect people by tranquillising and relocating problem animals if needed. However, the service exists only on paper, says Cristian Papp, Large Carnivore expert at WWF-Romania. Now, the ministry proposes again to kill wolves and bears, ignoring scientific proof and advice from consultants, like the Romanian Academy of Science.

Killing does not solve anything

Killing bears and wolves is just not solving the problem. There are plenty of examples that show how killing can have the opposite effect and increases the number of conflicts. Killing a wolf that belongs to a wolf pack, creates a weak pack. A weak pack takes less risk when hunting, thus takes easy prey. Choosing between a fluffy sheep or an adult red deer with big antlers becomes very simple. Herd protection measures proof in different European countries that it minimises livestock depredation often by more than 90%.

Wolves play a crucial role in restoring nature’s balance in Romania. Without proper herd protection measures, wandering wolves will keep killing sheep. But put this loss in perspective to loss to extreme weather conditions, or the damage of ungulates. Comparing these numbers, the wolf accounts only for a fraction of the annual costs of wildlife damage.

Why are there human-wildlife conflicts?

A study from America showed the reason why bear-conflicts increased. Here, in Romania the same is happening, but can we blame the bears?

Romanias wildlife management system focusses on economic profit, not on conservation of protected species. For example, humans leave little room and food for the bear by over-harvesting forest fruits and massive deforestation activities. Human settlements have poor waste management, attracting the hungry bears to the packed garbage bins. If only better education, awareness and implementation was provided as conflict prevention measures…

It seems that the Romanian Ministry of Environment has a mixed opinion on protecting the environment. They not only support the killing of protected wildlife, but also allow the continued destruction of natural wonders. The last free flowing Jiu river in the Carpathians is currently dammed for hydroelectric power. This would mean the loss of a great potential WILDRiver, already located in a protected national park.

A better solution

The better solution for a peaceful coexistence of human and nature relies still on acceptance. Humans have to accept nature, and need to adapt accordingly. Using proper herd management measures will minimise the human-wildlife conflicts. Therefore, a cooperation between locals, politicians, hunters, farmers and NGOs is crucial. 

“Natürlich sind Beutegreifer eine ernste Bedrohung. Das gibt uns aber nicht das Recht, Arten auszurotten. Die Zukunft der Schäfereien und der Erhalt der Artenvielfalt sind untrennbar miteinander verbunden. Wir arbeiten gemeinsam daran, dafür Lösungen zu finden.”

“Of course, predators are a serious threat. However, this does not give us the right to eradicate species. The future of sheep farming and the preservation of biodiversity are inseparably linked. We are working together, to find solutions.” 

Günther Czerkus, Bundesverband Berufsschäfer (BVBS)

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6 Comments

  1. Kajetan Perzanowski on

    Germans killed an European bison bull which swam across the Oder River from Poland. This animal migrated for several weeks on Polish side of the border not causing any troubles or harm. The meat will be consumed at local fiesta in one of German towns

  2. Jean-Paul Jeanrenaud on

    Start a petition to the government that the international community can sign. Thanks

  3. True protector on

    just like in countries that have problems with bears and wolves. Mr. Jean Paul- suppose that Romania will give you free bears, you take them??? So let Romania resolve its problems and you protect what you have in your country

  4. This article is not free of “sliding” … (

    In Romania today there are far more than 8,000 brown bear, and a few dozen hunted bears do not mean that the species is being eradicated !!! It is only those who are incompetent to claim that they are scouring fears in other people. Please do not want to think and decide on people living there. Such misleading reasoning has so far caused serious damage to real wildlife protection.

  5. Neculai Şelaru on

    Mr. Papp Cristian’s arguments are purely theoretical. In the partially anthropic nature of Romania, much less anthropized than in most European countries, overpopulations of wolves and bears produce real imbalances in relation to other hunting fauna populations, unacceptable damages to farmers and other agricultural producers and frequent accidents, including homicides.
    The effects of overpopulation, in relation to the bio productive capacity of hunting funds, also affect the vigourosity of the species. Under these circumstances, the return to a pragmatic management like hunters in 1950’s, when in Romania there were 580 bears, until 2006, when in Romania there were approximately 6000 bears, in conditions of acceptable damage, would be a rational and wise measure.
    The protection and preservation without limitation of a growing population of bears and wolves in Romania, only on Romanians costs and risks, is unreasonable and will certainly have an adverse effect than the one expected by the protectors because of the reaction of the injured people and the degeneration of the specimens of the species.
    Taking into account the results of the bears and wolves management in Romania from 1950 until recently, the country with the most dense and vigorous species of these breeds in Europe, it would be necessary to take over the example of the management, not to be blamed by the noisy protectors, who are doing nothing practically in the interests of these species, and even less by those ,whom, in their countries have failed to prevent, the extermination of the last bears and wolves, after the last data.
    More support and appreciation would do better to these species, than the aberrant incrimination of the authority in this field, which are absolutely wrong, who, together with the hunters in Romania, had, however, at least in Europe, the most spectacular results in terms of protection and preservation of the bear and wolf herds, despite the inevitable past mistakes.

    N. Şelaru

  6. Dear all, I would like to thank you for your opinions and concerns, and reply to your comments.

    @ True Protector – If every country would only look at its own problems, wilderness protection and species conservation would be impossible. Nature does not follow our human-made borders, and animals do not own a passport. International cooperation is crucial, as we can see from the conservation efforts for the Eurasian Lynx and many other animals like the beaver, ibex and vultures for example.

    @ Kondor – You are right that killing a few dozen bears does not mean that the species is eradicated. The main problem is however the question when you are allowed to shoot a bear. The 27 member states of the European Union have decided classify the bear as a species that needs to be protected. Killing of these bears is only possible if all other means to reduce conflict have been tried and failed.

    One can agree or disagree on the total number of bears in Romania, but it is proven that published numbers are often too high and unrealistic. Many sources have labelled the new law in Romania as a way to legalise trophy hunting. If that is the case, then the link between hunting of bears and the human-bear conflict is closely intertwined. We certainly hope that the new law is not supporting trophy hunting, yet is supporting nature in its wilderness-concept. The Romanian bear population is crucial for the recovery of the bear population in many European countries. Bears do travel, sometimes hundreds of miles, to find a new place and mate. For example, the bear ‘Yvo’ travelled from Poland, through Slovakia to Hungary, before travelling back through Slovakia to Ukraine.

    @ Neculai Şelaru – Romania is no exception when it comes to damage of wildlife to farmers and other agricultural practices. In every country, there is a negative economic impact at local, regional and national level. For example, the damage of ungulates to the forestry and timber industry exceeds millions of euros each year. The wild boar alone causes annually 80 million euros of damage to European agriculture. The amount of damage by wolves and bears take only a fraction of these amounts, but should nevertheless be compensated. Protecting and preserving bears and wolves would not lead to unlimited growing populations. Population sizes balance itself according to their natural carrying capacity. In this, bears and wolves play a crucial role to restore of the equilibria in ecosystems, that we humans over the last decades have brought out of balance. A statement that the bears are overpopulating, is a result of something very important. The rate of deforestation in Romanian forests has decreased the space for bears to live over the last decade at a faster rate than the bears can adapt their population levels to. Actually, the deforestation in Romania has triggered a large Old Growth Forest conference in Brussels last week.

    It is no wonder that bears start to wander in search of food, when there are not enough food resources in their own habitat. Implementing a hunting regime compared to the 1950s would therefore not be rational and wise. Your statement that the presence of bears and wolf is only at the costs and risk of Romanians, is a very important issue that Romania, as a member of the European Union, needs to address with the European Commission and the European Parliament. The bears in Romania are protected according to the FFH-directives, and therefore Romania should be eligible for financial support to compensate for the damages, since the bears are a contribution to European nature conservation. And as the species is internationally protected by European Law, there are also European funds that can provide financial support to the local Romanian people to support proper and effective livestock (and beehive) management measures to minimise damages.

    We are very concerned and involved not only in protecting the species, but much more importantly in minimising the impact and social, cultural and economic damages caused by these animals. For example, we are now preparing a herd protection best practice guide, that provides all Europeans with information to learn from each other on how to manage herds, like sheep and goats, in the presence of wolves and bears.

    We visited many sites to learn first-hand what protection measures work and what does not work. The handbook is used to distribute this information among other livestock owners, hunters, NGOs, and other stakeholders across Europe. Just look at the conferences and workshops we visited last week. We are putting a lot of time out in the field, right where the action is happening. It is the input from people like the three of you, that is very valuable to us, to assist us in helping the other people in Europe, who are coping with the same issues.

    We agree with you that more support and appreciation towards the Romanian authorities and its people would help the species conservation. Yes, Romania has done a great job in supporting a growing numbers of wildlife species over the last years. Still, as you mention, not only Romania but also other countries have their challenges in coping with the returning large carnivores and herbivores. But as the chairman of the German professional shepherds’ association (BVBS), Günther Czerkus states:

    “Of course, predators are a serious threat. However, this does not give us the right to eradicate species. The future of sheep farming and the preservation of biodiversity are inseparably linked. We are working together, to find solutions.” 

    This also does not mean that international cooperation for protection of these species, and support for local people cannot co-exist. Romania does not have to face this problem alone, everybody is responsible for our planet, our nature and its great diversity of species, together.

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