bear in Slovenia - yesterday, today and tomorrow - is not an issue
that the Slovene or the European public, particularly those concerned
about the fate of the scarce bear population in Europe, need to
is no reason for concern, either professionally or politically,
even though at first sight it may seem that the brown bear population
management strategy as a whole and in part lies outside the domestic
legal, professional and moral or ethical norms, comparable to those
Slovenian brown bear population (Ursus arctos) is one of the most
vital in Europe, with an expanding habitat and strongly increasing
numerically. That this is really the case can be demonstrated by
the facts and parameters concerning the bear population, which are
The conservation and protection of the bear in Slovenia, past and
protection in Slovenia, particularly in the area known as the High
Karst, is traditional and permanent. Its beginnings go back to the
19th century when elsewhere, that is in most parts of Europe, bears
were being persecuted and, finally, exterminated.
first initiatives for the protection of bears came from the private
estates of large landowners and, even if we ignore the reasons for
it, the "Ordinance on the Protection of bears in the Kocevje,
Crnomelj, Novo mesto, Logatec and Ljubljana Districts", dating
from 1935, effected a ban on the shooting and killing, as well as
buying and selling of bears, which represented one of the first
measures taken for the protection and preservation of bears in Europe
and the first attempt at demarcating the various bear habitat zones
protection of bears on Slovene territory was maintained in all the
legislation relating to hunting from the end of the Second World
War to the present.
bear has always had the status of a protected, but at the same time
a game species, the granting of permission for the culling of which
has always been planned and in line with a top-down approach (the
state - game breeding area - hunting ground), recognising and taking
into consideration the specific ecology of bears.
should be made here of the Decision adopted in 1966, which defined
a special 'bear region' in Slovenia, encompassing most of the central
area of the bear's habitat.
are the foundations on which the present legal documents for the
protection of bears in Slovenia are based. In 2001, the "Brown
Bear Management Strategy in Slovenia" was drawn up and then
adopted in 2002 by the Government.
is a strategy for the management of free-ranging species, based
on scientifically founded ecological principles and involving considered
and mutually complementary legal and administrative measures in
the fields of culture, sociology and the economy with the intention
of preserving the bear and its natural habitat.
allows animals to live in the way that nature intended, ensuring
a sustainable use that man can expect from this part of living nature,
whilst also facilitating the bear's coexistence with man.
the strategy to succeed, measures based on it must be adapted to
the ecological characteristics of the environment and the historical
socio-economic conditions in Slovenia. The purpose of the management
of the brown bear population in Slovenia is to determine the aims
and goals as well as the measures for the protection of this species
and its habitat, as well as measures facilitating the coexistence
of man and bear. The strategy is based on two fundamental postulates:
bear - a living being and biological species
bear, like other free-living plant and animal species on the territory
of Slovenia has, for ecological and ethical reasons, a right to
exist. Large carnivores, of which the bear is one, are an important
part of biotic diversity - in their own right and because of the
role they play at the top of the food pyramid.
Brown bear - man
brown bear is an animal species which needs a large habitat and
lives in areas also populated by people. There is almost no place
where man is not present. The bears' prey can include domestic animals
and, potentially, bears can be dangerous to man.
protection and preservation of bears is therefore possible alongside
coexistence with man and with the provision of measures enabling
The two, completely equal, goals of the strategy are:
long-term preservation of the brown bear species in Slovenia,
including its habitat and
the coexistence of man and bear
the Strategy, the territory of Slovenia is divided into 4 basic
of these areas has a different regime with regard to both goals
of the strategy: the preservation of the bear and its habitat and
the creation of suitable conditions for the coexistence of man and
regimes are reflected through both the protection of and encroachments
on the population, as well as the adaptation of man and his activities
(local population, farming, forestry, tourism, infrastructure, etc.)
to coexistence with bears.
the greatest difficulties Slovenia has in the setting up of regimes
of bear population management are in the transit area, where we
face on the one hand the clearly expressed standpoints and expectations
of the international public, particularly in neighbouring countries,
and on the other the way this area is used and the difficulties
arising from this in relation to the presence of bears in Slovenia.
foundations of the Strategy take into account all the legal postulates,
both with respect to Slovenian, as well as European and international
legislation - the most important undoubtedly being the Bern Convention
with its action plan for the brown bear population in Europe.
2002, an action plan based on the Strategy was created for the Slovenian
bear population, which is now being adopted and implemented. The
action plan takes into consideration and includes all those points
contained in the European action plan referring to Slovenia.
us mention here that in 2002 a workshop for the Dinaric and Pindos
area on the implementation of the action plan points for individual
countries, organised by LCIE (Large Carnivore Initiative for Europe),
was held in the Risnjak National Park in Croatia.
workshop was intended for representatives of the countries between
Slovenia and Greece, that is from the unified ecological habitat
of the so-called Alps-Dinaric-Pindos brown bear population. Slovenia
presented its brown bear management strategy to the nine countries
participating at the workshop and was the only country there to
have a strategy which is fully set up and officially adopted at
state level. During the review of the individual points of the European
action plan for individual countries, it was established that, with
the exception of three points, Slovenia is fulfilling the action
plan in its entirety.
3. The management of the bear population
in Slovenia at present
the basis of the above we can conclude that:
population of the brown bear in Slovenia is in a "favourable
position" (stable) and not threatened either in the short
or long-term. The population size is increasing and the area
where bears can be found is widening
has been empirically established that an increment of 2 cubs
per female in a population of 500-700 bears means an annual
increment of 100-150 bears. Following the increase in the number
of bears in the past decade, the encroachment at a level of
15% of the estimated population in 2002 is the first radical
one and includes bears eliminated by all possible causes
number of bears in the total culling quota actually shot is
falling, while the number of animals exceptionally culled in
conflict situations and the number of bears lost, particularly
in road and rail accidents, is growing
of damage incurred by bears and the number of conflicts with
man are increasing, causing the image of this species to be
perceived in a progressively negative way. In the last five
years, 3 serious incidents involving a bear attack on a person
resulting in serious bodily harm have been recorded. As a consequence
of this, there is the strong possibility of the unlicensed hunting
of bears, that is completely uncontrolled encroachments into
the bear population
species is above the sustainability threshold for its environment
and the areas in which bears appear in Slovenia could not sustain
a larger population.
In its management of the brown bear, Slovenia is respecting
international regulations, including all the documents and plans
involving the international area, as well as the ecologically
integral Eastern Alps-Dinarics-Pindos area, but at this particular
point in time, a greater encroachment into the population has
to be a reality, too.
is also one of the measures set out in the adopted Brown Bear Management
Strategy and the action plan based on it. The implementation of
most of the other measures ensuring the achievement of the two strategy
goals will be carried out by Slovenia using its own knowledge and
resources and, of course, in this it will take advantage of definitely
required international help (for example, LIFE projects, etc.).
shall (as we are already doing) take into account the integrity
of the measures aimed at solving the problems, which does not involve
just the culling of bears, but also the implementation of a whole
range of measures in the brown bear habitat (feeding, habitat improvement,
prevention relating to the breeding of small livestock, illegal
refuse dumps, etc.).