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70 Bears to Be Killed in Slovenia

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The Slovenian Environment Ministry has approved a wild bear kill of 70 animals. The country has between 430 and 480 bears according to one estimate.

Some environmentalists put the number slightly lower. In 2008 the Environment Ministry approved a kill of 75, and in 2007 it was 100. In 2006 it was also 100. That will make 345 wild bears killed in the last four years.  The number of cubs born each year is estimated at 60-90.
(Brown bears in Slovenia are a protected species.)

For 2009, 70 out of 430 bears killed will make an annual mortality rate of 16% and 480 bears is 14%. However, it was reported on the site for Radio Free Europe that the international standard for maintaining stability is only 10%, ” According to international norms, 10 percent of the bear population can be hunted annually to maintain a healthy stock.” If that percentage is correct, only 43 or 48 bears should be available for culling. So why were 100 bears approved for killing in 2007 and in 2006, a rate of at least 20 percent?

The number of bears killed due to government quotas is not the whole of the bear mortality rate. Each year 20-40 are killed when they are hit by cars and trains. A 2006 report from the World Wildlife Fund noted a dramatic difference in the number of government approved bear kills from the time that Slovenia joined the European Union. In 2001 a 59 bear kill was authorized, and in 2002 the number was 116. The overall bear population had remained the same, but the kill number was nearly doubled. That year the International Association for Bear Research and Management wrote a letter to the Slovenian government in which they stated, “We are very concerned that the Slovenian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food has allowed a harvest that is almost three times the sustainable level based on best available data.”