The Slovenia Times

Brown bear cull may resume

Environment & Nature
A bear with her cubs near Stari Trg in Slovenia. Photo: Xinhua/STA

The cull of 230 brown bears may resume after the Administrative Court has dismissed a lawsuit by an environmental group that challenged a government culling order on the grounds that it contravenes Slovenian and EU law.

Slovenia has a brown bear population estimated at around 1,100 animals and since bears reproduce successfully culling has long been used as the principal population management measure approved by scientists and forest managers alike.

But every year green groups challenge the cull in court with the argument that the law allows culling as a measure of last resort, whereas Slovenia applies it indiscriminately as a population control tool.

Based on input from scientists, this year the Ministry for Natural Resources and Spatial Planning ordered the cull of 230 brown bears, the highest number to date. The order was however suspended with an injunction in late May following a lawsuit by Alpe Adria Green.

The ministry said on 27 September that the culling order is now final and that all those involved had already been informed that the cull may resume. By the time the ministry received the injunction, 182 brown bears had already been culled.

When issuing the order this spring, the ministry said it was striving for a manageable cohabitation between humans and bears, and that the objective was to prevent serious damage and ensure the health and safety of humans.

Natural Resources Minister Uroš Brežan also said that the department had looked into other possibilities to prevent human-bear conflict, such as relocations in the wild or captivity, but their numbers are simply too high.

According to estimates by scientists, 800 is a figure high enough to make the brown bear population viable, and low enough to minimise human-bear conflict.

Study after study has shown that conflicts are a major risk to the brown bear population: if there are too many dangerous human encounters with bears, the public acceptance of brown bears is at risk of collapsing, which could give rise to poaching.

The brown bear population in Slovenia is concentrated in the densely forested but sparsely populated south of the country, but as the population rises bears tend to disperse wider and venture ever closer to human settlements.


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