fot. Robert Gatzka

Protection of bear dens makes it to the court

The Regional Court in Krosno has granted the Natural Heritage Foundation’s request to halt planned logging in one of the planned clear-cuts section in the Lutowiska Forest District, where potential and active bear dens are located. The Foundation has filed a lawsuit against the Forest District, including a request for an injunctive relief, which in this case means stopping logging in indicated section, until the proceedings are completed.

Winter denning is one of the most important phases in the annual cycle of brown bears. In the northern areas of their range, it can last́ up to seven months. In the Polish Carpathians denning lasts about 3-4 months, and the bears usually enter the den in November- December and emerge in March-April, depending on the age and the weather conditions. Winter denning is a particularly sensitive period because hibernating bears undergo drastic physiological changes and lose up to 45% of their body mass. Therefore, the existence and preservation of denning sites and habitats is vital to minimize energy loss, and avoiding human disturbance in this sensitive period is crucial and fundamental to brown bear conservation. Tree cutting and other forestry works in denning areas significantly decrease the denning habitat quality for brown bears. Logging changes the structure of mature forest stands and significantly reduces food resources, changes microclimate and cover required for winter denning and to successfully reproduce. It has also been reported that abandoned dens had the entrances stripped off by the pulled logs in forestry operations.

We highlighted the necessity of the brown bear dens protection in our previous news

The brown bear is a species with large spatial requirements, low reproductive rates and very sensitive to habitat degradation and fragmentation and to human disturbance. It is listed in Annexes II and IV of the Habitats Directive and classified as a priority species, which means that Poland is obliged to maintain a favourable conservation status of the brown bear population, and to guarantee enough suitable habitat and the protection of their breeding sites and resting places (Art 6 and 12 of the Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC). The court case on brown bear dens is a precedent-setting case, the success of which will contribute to more effective conservation of the species. Just getting it on the court calendar is already a very important step.


Link to the press information,177851,28850242,sad-wstrzymal-wycinke-drzew-wokol-gawr-niedzwiedzi-w-bieszczadach.html