Árpád Antal, the mayor of Sfântu Gheorghe (Sepsiszentgyörgy) in Transylvania (former part of Hungary, now Romania), asks the European Commission (EC) to review the protected status of the brown bear in an open letter to President Ursula von der Leyen. In the letter, the politician welcomed the EC President’s initiative on grey wolves and called for it to be extended to bears.
In a statement in early September, Ursula von der Leyen drew attention to the concentration of wolf packs in some European regions, which pose a threat to livestock and potentially people, and urged EU countries to take action to tackle the threat. The Brussels panel called on all relevant parties and authorities to provide updates on the wolf population and its management by September 22. On the basis of the information gathered, the committee will, if needed, draw up a new proposal that could amend the EU’s protected status for wolves, updating the current legal framework, they stated at the time.
A “similar reassessment” of the protected status of bears would be badly needed, Árpád Antal wrote in the letter. “As the mayor of a city where, unfortunately, bears are increasingly walking in the streets, I welcome the EU’s intention to finally address this issue,” the politician added. He pointed out that
the overpopulation of bears in Romania due to their protected status has led to a number of emergencies and that “the situation is far more serious than the removal or shooting of a few animals can remedy.”
As he explained, not only farmers have suffered significant damage, but the safety of the city’s population is also threatened by bears roaming the settlement. Bear attacks have become “particularly frequent” in Szeklerland, he wrote. The politician cited figures from the Romanian environment ministry that 154 people were attacked by bears in Romania between 2016 and 2021, and 14 of them were fatal.
Despite this, it is difficult to tackle the worsening problem, as the tools available are very limited, Antal noted. “Therefore, I respectfully ask both the European Commission and You, Madam President, to extend the reassessment plans for wolves to bears, given that
the situation in Romania has reached alarming proportions and the need for the Commission to address it is growing by the day,”
He recalled that it was precisely because of the Commission’s opposition that efforts to change the legal framework in Romania had been unsuccessful and that the EU’s support on the issue was badly needed. Antal communicated at a press conference on Thursday that a bear was being chased out of the city for more than three hours on Wednesday before it was captured. In the meantime, the bear had also mauled goats belonging to a farmer in Chilieni (Kilyén), near Sfântu Gheorghe.
The incident led him to write a letter to the EC president, as bear attacks in Transylvania mostly affect poor people. “A poor man is not in a position to change European rules because a protected wild animal killed his livestock,” the politician concluded.
Via MTI, Featured image:Pixabay