PRELIMINARY REPORT ON NECCESSITY OF CARPATHIAN BROWN BEAR’S PROTECTION BY URGENT DETERMINATION OF A REAL SHOOTING QUOTA FOR THE 2003–2004 HUNTING SEASON

In consequent of an excessive hunting and incompetent administration of the stock of game, the brown bear population of Romania shows a biologically inadmissible downward tendency. For this reason it’s probably the partial or complete extinction of this species in the next decade. In the last 3–4 years the brown bear population of Romania, inclusive of Harghita county one, was 60% diminuated because of the illegal administration of the stock of game by the National Forestry Administration and Romanian Hunting Association.

For this reason Aves Foundation took the initiative of a national campain to protect and save the carpathian brown bear (Ursus arctos arctos) of Romania: the first measures consist in identification of the risk factors resulting the inadmissible diminuation of brown bear population of Romania.

We have concret data only from Harghita county where whe performed specific researches for monitorizing and evaluation of the bear population’s number. The searched surface is approximately 100.000 hectars exctent, and the results may constitute pattern for the regions where are living still bears in Romania.

According to official statistics in 1988–89 the bear population in Romania was 7780 individuals, of wich 1185 one lived in Harghita county, region with typical ambient of the Carpathians. Statistics shows too that from about 8000 bears living in Romania in the 80s, their number was 31% diminuated in ten years only, that is to say 6533 bears in 1997. Statistics from Harghita county is more alarming: in ten years the number of bears was 48% diminuated, that is to say from 1185 individuals in 1985 to 615 animals only in 1997. Their number was more drastically diminuated in the following years, there are only 250–260 individuals living in Harghita county in 2003 that is to say 935 less than in 1989.

Where are disappeared these 935 bears from Harghita Mountains and who is responsable for their disappearance?

In order to prove by accurate information the heavy unlawful acts of some people in the administration of stock of game and the bears’ illegal massacre by forbidden methods, we investigated the activity of Forestry Direction Miercurea Ciuc (county town of Harghita) and the one of five Hunting Associations from Harghita county. In each hunting field we observed heavy violations of hunting prescriptions and of rules concerning the administration of stocks of game, and what is more, in two investigated hunting fields we detected heavy violations of legality, which is no longer supportable. The two guilty legal persons in the violation of the laws are:
  • National Forestry Administration (Regia Nationala a Padurilor), represented by the Forestry Direction Miercurea Ciuc in the hunting field admistrated by Forestry Office Zetea.
  • General Hunting Association from Romania represented by Tarnava Mare Hunting Association from Odorheiu Secuiesc in all hunting fields adminstrated by him.

The comitted illegalities hurt the image and the national interests of Romania by extermination of bear population and by shameful illegal methods employed for the hunting of this protected animal by international conventions signed by Romania too. The illegalities detected by Aves Foundation in order to bears’ hunting in the sample region of Harghita are the following:

  • Overestimated shooting quota;
  • Employment of dead animal carcasses as lure without permission of higher public authorities in each distinct case;
  • Infection of domestic animals and stock of game by employing of carcasses for bears’ feeding;
  • Employment of closed shooting boxes for bears’ hunting;
  • Bears’ hunting in their dens and winter beating in hibernation territories;
  • Incompetent administration of stocks of game;
  • Inadequate specialization of game-keepers (training courses in only 30 days);
  • Poaching;
  • Massacre of pregnant femals in autumn and early spring when bear-cubs are staying still in dens;
  • Imprisonment of young bears for their keeping in captivity.

For lack of space and because of the short time disposal for the investigation we would like to inform you on the most disastrous result of the factor above-mentioned at p. nr. 1, the details of other illegalities follow to be reported next time.


OVERESTIMATED SHOOTING QUOTA

Shooting quota approved by departmental Order sent out by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forests, Water Management & Environment on the 11th September 2003 points plainly at the fact that the quota in question concerning the bears’ shooting (and not only that) is totally irreal, because it is much in excess of the number of sacrificable bears for hunters’ financial intrests.

For the 2003–2004 hunting season it was approved the shooting of 74 bear individuals, that is to say about 38% of bear population living in Harghita county. By analysis of Shooting quota approved for Tarnava Mare Hunting Association (10 indiv.) as the one for Forestry Direction Miercurea Ciuc (29 indiv.) it is easy to point out that it was approved the shooting of a bigger number of bears than the optimal number legally approvable. According to the pertaining instructions to this it is legal the shooting of one animal of 10 bears.

The correct shooting quota may be obtained by an exact counting of bears by game-keepers in the hibernation places. This number must be divided by 10, because ten years turned is the minimum of the legal age for bear’s shooting. Game-keepers did not count bears in the administrated hunting fields. This fact may be established by supervising of diaries and minutes about censuses, and the management for lack of concret data about the territory has comitted an intellectual fraud by overestimating of bears’ number in the administrated stock. Bears are “counted” by estimating their number in the office and other places than hibernation zones. In such a way a bear is taken in evidence even in “transit” places where its passing is occasional, in a place wich isn’t a typical biotopos. In a night only a bear is able to wander all over 15–20 km for feeding and may be counted at full the lenght of the way. In rolling country a bear is usually three time counted because to have a bigger shooting quota. By verification of biotopos from the hunting fields and controlling of the bears’number establshed only by estimation, it may be certainly proved that bears are counted in places where they ar inexistent and they are shoot in fields where they are living in fact.

This illegal procedure is in practice for personal interests and to obtain a bigger financial profit by wild animal shooting. In fact the real price of one bear is 7,000 Euros, there are aproved 74 bears to shoot in Harghita county, that is to say the grand total of the stock of game to be shoot reaches about half million Euros. This gigantical amount shows the real dimensions of the corruption in the world of legal entities which are occupied in hunting.

According to our estimation the bears’ number to be shoot in fact is 1–2 individuals for Tarnava Mare Aqssociation Odorhei and 7–8 animals for Forestry Direction Miercurea Ciuc, the difference between this number and aproved shooting quota is completely illegal. By Aves Foundation’s investigation we established that for the approval of overestimated shooting quota is guilty not only the Ministry in question but much more some corrupt persons of Harghita county wich are directly responsable for the evaluation of the stock of game and wich establish and sign the requests concerning soothing quotas. These requests get to the Ministry without to be verified – according to the hunting jurisdiction – the integrity and credibility of authorities in question.

The guilty persons in fraud are those wich are responsable also for the employment of illegal methods in bears’ hunting and of other protected animals in Europe. They are the following: Presidents and Directors of some Hunting Associations, the President of General Association of Hunters from Romania, someones of Directors of State Forestry Offices, the Director of Forestry Direction Miercurea Ciuc, the management of National Forestry Administration (Regia Nationala a Padurilor) and the Territorial Inspectorate for Forestry and Hunting Administration Harghita, state authority wiche is responsable for the keeping of hunting legality.

For the above mentionated reasons we solicit respectfully to dispose the urgent reevaluation of bears’ number and to start an public inquiry for the indentification of guilty persons. If their culpability will be proven, we solicit their exemption from the public function and to bring them to justice for misuse of authority and corruption. The damages caused to the Romanian State by bears’ shooting are estimated to about 400,000 Euros only in Harghita county.

In case if immediate action doesn’t will be taken against the illegaties comitted concerning the aproved shooting quota for the massacre of animals wich are protected by European jurisdiction and international conventions subscribed by Romania also, we will inform about the European Parliament, central romanian and foreign mass-media, just like competent national and international organizations.


Odorheiu Secuiesc, on the 25th nov. 2002

    László Szabó-Szeley
    president