An environmentalist says that trophy bear hunting continues in Romania despite a five-year ban.
Gabriel Paun of the environmental NGO Agent Green said he had recently contacted tourism agencies in Austria, Germany and the Netherlands that offered hunting trips to Romania.
He pretended to be interested in hunting and asked them how they could circumvent the ban.
He said he was told: “We can invent a ‘problem bear’ that can be hunted at any time” and “Romanian authorities are ready to help.”
His comments to Digi 24 came after the environment minister said he wanted a hunting ban lifted for ‘dangerous’ bears which have attacked humans or livestock.
Environment Minister Barna Tanczos said under the proposed measure, hunters will be allowed to shoot a ‘problem bear’ within 24 hours of an attack.
The minister made the proposal following a meeting with farmers and hunting organizations which was called after three bear attacks.
But Agent Green said the minister’s proposal was a ruse to allow wholesale hunting.
“If an ordinance to shoot the bears gets the green light, a lot of bears will be shot, and not so-called problem bears,” he said.
“They won’t be able to decide which bear is guilty. This means hunters will no longer have to wait for weeks. They’ll be able to come and sit ‘a problem bear’ any time.”
Bears have been in the news in recent month with a a number of sightings in towns and resorts.
In 2016, Romania banned the trophy hunting of large carnivores, such as bears and wolves.
But under successive governments, exceptions have been granted for the sake of controlling the population.
Almost 1,400 bears have been killed by hunters to date, who are said to be willing to pay as much as $15,000 for a trophy.
The official number of brown bears in Romania is over 6,000. But environmental groups argue that it might be as low as 2,000 while hunting associations say the number could be as high as 10,000.