Do not feed bears!

photo: Carpathian Brown Bear Project

Cases of habituation and food conditioning of brown bears are known from all over their wide range, both in areas where bears are subject to strict protection and where the species is hunted. In Poland, this phenomenon is best known in Tatra Mountains, where habituated and more often food conditioned bears appear almost every year since the 80s. The appearance of problem bears in Tatra was mainly due intentional feeding. The magnitude of this problem has been significantly reduced in Tatras since proper waste management, deterrence and aversive conditioning of bears have been implemented systematically during the last decade of last century.

During recent years, it has been observed an important increase of this phenomenon in the Bieszczady region. Most bears in Bieszczady are strongly conditioned by supplemental food provided for game (representing 1/3 of the bear diet), and their movements seems also to be influenced by the location of the feeding sites. These bears can easily become problem individuals, or even nuisance bears. Intentional luring and feeding of bears, also with wastes of human food and leftovers from slaughterhouses, aiming to create a local tourist attraction, or to help in photo and video recording, is becoming more and more popular in Bieszczady. This activity is beyond any control.

Considering the lack of proper waste management from both local residents and tourists, it is clear that in the short term there may be drastic consequences and problem bears may appear quite soon in Bieszczady, unless measures are taken immediately. So, once again we ask: do not feed bears!