Homeless Bears And “Stupid Idiots”

on the fight between the hulky body of the hunted and the narrow mind of the hunter"You're a stupid idiot!"-thus sounded the insult addressed by a desperate man to a taxi driver, before my very own eyes. The text you are about to read is governed by this paradoxically necessary redundancy full of affliction and helplessness. The subject of this article is not the "scavenger bear", but the balance of the Carpathian forest ecosystem, for which the behaviour of the innocent beast constitutes a real indicator. You shall see who the "stupid idiots" are.   The cause of evilThe ostensible paradox is the small number of human victims of bear attacks during the '80s, given the fact that at the time the Romanian Carpathians were home to the largest number of bears ever, about 8,000 of them. Quite to the contrary, nowadays, when the actual numbers barely reach 3,000 bears (honest specialists admit to this figure, while the "fattened" official figures make the subject of another sad story we have already covered), the human victims are increasingly numerous. There is only one cause for this paradox, no different than what is happening in other "civilized" parts of the world: the human invasion of wild habitats, at an unprecedented pace, taking multiple forms and having just as many side effects. Forms of invasionThe Bucegi, Postăvarul, and Piatra Mare mountains, and the famous Prahova Valley, with their countless spas and "expanding" tourist complexes, are just a blatant example, the tip of the lance responsible for restricting the wild habitat by anthropic invasion. Bears are begging for sweets at Sinaia too. The human invasion-ubiquitously extending all over the Carpathians-is not just territorial, but also plundering. From July to September, due to the poverty of the plebs, the reapers of bilberries, mushrooms and raspberries pick industrial quantities of "berries" and sell them by the side of the road or hand them over to collection centers. The flocks of sheep and the packs of shepherd dogs without a master also roam the woods. The chainsaws and forest exploitation tractors that are responsible for deforestation leave behind landscapes similar to those on the Moon. The roads and the asphalt of the highways crossing the mountains complete the drama. For the time being, the drama concerns only bears, but soon it will also involve people. For each of us, a habitat means a private quiet space, the ability to move around, a safe shelter and food. Few people understand this when it comes to wild animals. Getting used to the "drug"Hunters were the first to blame for getting bears used to the "drug": food given by humans. Following an intense practice of more than 70 years, the use of dead horses and cows or cereals as bait for trapping bears induced in the latter "the non-fear of humans". In the old days, the smell of humans meant danger. Nowadays things are quite the contrary: at the "feeding points"-all placed in front of hunting enclosures-, the smell of humans means food. It also means getting a bullet, but the bear won't find out about this until it is too late. Although forbidden by national and European laws, this method is almost exclusively used for the hunting of bears in Romania, with all "specialists" acting as accomplices and with the participation of hunters from the EU. Recently, as part of the "Brown Bear Management and Action Plan" (this is the exact title of the document from the Ministry for the Environment and Sustainable Development), together with other aberrations, "researchers" from the ICAS (Institute for Forestry Research and Development) have introduced and supported the notion of "detour feeding". That is, bears have to be specifically fed so as to keep them away from eating sheep or residues, etc. In fact, this only serves and "scientifically" covers the interest for illegal bait hunting, since the ICAS document does not mention feeding bears out in the wilderness, but-you guessed it!- right in front of the old gun emplacements used by riflemen, at the foot of the mountains, by the side of the road. The residues from chalets, monasteries, as well as those left behind by tourists, often in large quantities, also contribute to the "doping" of bears. A lesson ignoredThose of us who are over 50 remember the "beggar" bears along the Transfăgărăşan in the '70s. The bear cubs raised in captivity in order to repopulate certain areas were the first victims of experimental "anthropization", helpless in readjusting to life in the wild. After being abandoned in the mountains by the forestry administrations, much like the few bears whose fostering I was involved with, those animals quickly ended up being killed by the axes and rifles of infamous villains whom they trusted only because they were hungry. The specialty of the great bear impostor ICAS is the main culprit for the chaos governing the forest ecosystem. Amateurism, lack of culture and the lack of any civic action of protest aimed at the effects of populist political maneuvers involving vital ecosystems constitute the flaws of this "scientific" institution. The stupid, silly and grammatically incorrect "Brown Bear Management and Action Plan" issued by ICAS only in order to tick another of the EU requests, which remains unapplied and is in fact impossible to be put into practice, was largely covered in the 7/2008 issue of our newspaper. […] Another sylviculturist […] suggested moving the dumpsters into the woods! The director of the National Sanitary Veterinary Authority (ANSV), […] a veterinarian, on finding out that bears are systematically fed with large quantities of expired chocolate in Covasna county, declared: "Except diarrhea or vomiting, it can't do them much harm". The doctor obviously didn't think that besides acting as an energizer for bears, chocolate also produces nervous agitation, which leads to aggression and "addiction" to the taste. Academia Catavencu, 24-30/9 2008(to be continued) Translated by Daniela Oancea 

by Nicolae Dărămuş