Killer Bears

More bear attacks occur each year, often in cities or villages, with human victims killed or severely wounded. Romania is now known as the country of the 6,000 bears, at a time when the optimum calculated number would be 4,400. So, this country has the largest number of bears in Europe, except for Russia1. Bear hunting is banned by law, unless the hunter has a special permit from the Environment Ministry.Many media reports of bear attacks come from the city of Brasov, which is surrounded by wooded mountains: there, bears come down from the woods to feed on city garbage. 
“City bears” in Brasov
In late July 2008, many inhabitants of Brasov called the emergency services at night to report that bears were walking the city streets2. On August 1, a female with three cubs was sighted in one of Brasov’s main streets. These are hardly the first encounters Brasov people have had with bears. Five years before, one man found a bear sleeping on the steps of his apartment building and another one ran into a bear at the second floor.Previously, in June3, a bear looking for dinner in the garbage bins of the city center was caught by midnight. He was a “junior,” one-and-a-half-years old, and weighing 100 kilos. Captured while he was having a banquet with the garbage of a restaurant right next to the highway, he was tranquilized and taken to a zoo. He was the seventh “city bear” caught in Brasov in 2008.Somehow, people have fun with all this – usually. The Brasov bears have become somewhat of a tourist attraction. But in early August 2008, that attraction turned tragic4. A man died after being attacked by a bear right in the center of Brasov, but, even with a dead body on their hands, neither the police, nor the City Hall tried to do anything about these animals. And that dead body, which belonged to a 20-year-old man, was badly mutilated. A man who walked his dog found the body and called the police. The investigators determined that the man had died of hemorrhage caused by multiple bear bites. The body showed many signs of struggle, which the coroner interpreted as an indication that the bear was uncommonly aggressive. The man seemed to have fought the bear and the bear seemed to have dragged him several meters into the nearby woods.Three hours after the body was found, the City Hall issued a communiqué requesting urgent steps to protect the people of Brasov, but, during all this time, nothing was done to block access to the area in question, where tourists strolled unhindered and a lot of people showed up to jog, while the playing ground for kids 50 meters away from the attack venue was very busy that morning. The City Hall blamed the Environment Ministry, which is seen to respond to all requests for assistance by saying that bears are protected by law. The local authorities say they have identified the bears who come down from the woods and are working to catch and relocate them to other mountainous areas. They say they have a surplus of bears in Brasov, namely 25 more than normal. There are 44 bears in the nearby forests instead of the optimum calculated number, which is 20. Relocating them is seen as a solution, but that is not without hazards, because the bears may attack people in their new territories.The trouble in Brasov is that taxi drivers feed the bears because tourists pay a couple of hundred dollars for a visit to the garbage bins, where they can see the animals. This practice has spread to other areas, too: the kitchen of a very famous restaurant in Sinaia, Prahova County is regularly visited by bears fed by the owner, who wants to make his customers happy, as they wish to watch these magnificent animals.
Cute cub on the roof
A female that may become extremely aggressive to protect her cute cubs is not such a rare view in Brasov. In May, a local man called the emergency services when he found a female bear with a cub in his yard5. The police showed up with tranquilizers and cages. They managed to get the bear and her cub out and shot her with two doses of tranquilizers. But she went inside the house followed by her cub, managing to destroy everything in her way, and took refuge in the attic.There, she broke the window and went out on the roof. That is where the tranquilizers finally took effect, so she remained blocked there. Fortunately, the policemen were able to drag her out. Together with her cub, she was taken to the local zoo and then to the LiBEARty reservation in Zarnesti, Brasov County. 
Hiker killed by bear
A man who was hiking in the woods with a friend died at the hospital in Covasna County, where he had been brought with serious wounds sustained in a bear attack6. Specialists say the number of local bears has increased a lot in recent years, reaching 500-600.
Bear attacks pigs
A bear attacked a pig farm in Mures County, killing two animals and wounding two others7. The employees chased him out, but that night they were awakened by their dogs, as the bear had returned. The local authorities say this is a very dangerous bear because he is very large, and they advised people to avoid going to the woods.
Bears attack sheep
Two shepherds in Arges County were attacked by a bear, but were saved by mountain rescuers and, when the ambulance arrived, they were in a pretty good shape8, although the wounded one had lost a lot of blood. The evening before, two females with cubs had been relocated from Sinaia, and these bears gave headaches to the local people in Arges.
The man eater
Still in Arges County9, a man was killed by a bear while farming his land. On July 24 at night, the man’s wife got worried because her husband had not returned home. She went to the field and she found her husband dead: the bear was right next to him and he had begun to feed on the dead body. The woman called the locals. A few men on a tractor showed up to help her. The beast braced to attack them too, so they killed him with axes.
Tourists allowed to visit bear reservation
The administrators of the LiBEARty reservation in Zarnesti, Brasov County have decided to let tourists visit the place, after the press published reports about foreigners who pay large sums of money to see the “city bears” in Brasov10.Tourists will have to buy a ticket, but they will only be allowed in during weekends and only in groups led by a guide. LiBEARty was established in 2007, it spreads over 70 hectares, and it is the first wildlife reserve for captive bears in Romania.
Getting foxy with bears!
Woody the Fox is new to the wildlife reserve of Zarnesti, Brasov County11. This foxy guy gets feasts by eating the food of old bears. The redhead spent a long time doing acrobatics in a circus. He was forced to entertain the public, to jump through a circle of fire for applause, and during one such stunt, his tail caught fire, so he was left with only half of it. Now that they did not need him anymore, the circus owners abandoned him near a school in Brasov. There, an animal rights group found him and took him to LiBEARty.This is when Woody’s life took an upturn, as he became somewhat of a local star. Although he is the only fox living with 45 bears, the redhead misses no opportunity to fool the big brown creatures. When food is brought, he approaches it stealthily, pretending that he is not interested. He waits for the right moment when the bears are inattentive, and he steals the most delicious pieces from them!
Compiled and translated by Monica Voiculescu 
Sources:1. Luminita Moroianu, George Scarlat, Andrei Ghiciusca and Elena Dumitrache, Ziua daily, August 2, 2008.2. Ibid. 3. Gandul daily, June 14, 2008.4. Ibid. 1, 2.5. Evenimentul Zilei daily, May 15, 2008.6. ProTv, a national television network, January 18, 2009. 7. Realitatea TV, a national news television network, May 9, 2009. 8. Antena 3, a national news television network, June 16, 2009.9. Realitatea TV, July 25, 2009.10. Evenimentul Zilei, August 13, 2009.11. Libertatea daily, August 23, 2009.

by Monica Voiculescu