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Title: “Preparation of the management plan of selected endangered and conflict species in Poland”.


Link to website: http://gatunki.sggw.pl


Period: 2009-2011.


Project leader: Wanda Olech-Piasecka.


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Summary: The total number of brown bears in Poland is low (estimated in 100) and its distribution range is also not very wide. Habitat loss and fragmentation, increase in human disturbance and access to bear areas, and shortage of key food resources are the main threats for the populations. Unplanned (unsustainable) regional development, especially of transport infrastructures as well as excessive tourism and human pressure may increase in the near future. Human-bear conflicts (attacks to livestock, beehives and people) are expected to grow. There is an urgent need to establish a transnational conservation strategy among all the Carpathian countries. As the Polish bear population lies in the border range of the European Carpathian population, any decrease in the main population or non-appropriate conservation plans of some countries may cause in the long-term a significant shrinkage of the Polish population. Finally, as a hibernating species with low reproductive rates, it may be affected by climatic changes and abnormalities in winter conditions.


The main goal of the project is to prepare a conservation plan for the brown bear in Poland which will define the status of the population, identify main threats and propose conservation measures to guarantee the long-term persistence of the species in Poland. These measures aim at (1) stop and minimize the negative effects of current threats, (2) prevent the appearance of future threats and conservation problems, also taking account possible effects of climate change.


The methodology of the project will include field work in order to make an inventory of bear numbers and distribution. The field data will be complemented with surveys among forestry districts and collection of all existing information on bear presence and past and present distribution. It will be desirable to estimate the size of bear population in Poland based on DNA sampling of hairs. This method is relatively unexpensive, quite accurate and has been tested with other brown bear populations with excellent results. It will allow obtain a first reliable figure for bear numbers in Poland. Up to now, estimates of bear numbers have not been very accurate. It will allow also design a protocol for a systematic collection of bear hair samples to estimate their number based on genetic analysis, which can be repeated every several years to monitor the population trends. Key food resources, of great importance for bears in critical moments, will be identified based on diet analysis. The information collected from the above sources together with data on bear presence gathered by the Institute of Nature Conservation PAS for the last decades will be analysed using Geographic Information Systems. Distribution maps and a habitat suitability model for the species will be produced. They have been proved to be an important tool to identify suitable bear habitats and areas that deserve protection as well as to predict conflictive areas and possible areas where the population could expand. Also the habitats which are suitable for reproduction or where mortality is more likely to happen could be identified.


Finally, a series of workshops and meetings with local societies, including shepherds, hunters and farmers, and the Forest and National Parks Administrations will be conducted in order to identify the main conflicts, discuss the best way to solve them and inform citizens about the needs to protect the Polish bear population.









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