Romania eyes EU funds for bear sanctuary in Transylvania. Country has largest bear population in Europe

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Romania’s government is looking for European Union funds to build a second bear sanctuary in the Transylvanian mountains, the environment minister said Monday.

Costel Alexe said an existing sanctuary in Zarnesti, in Brasov county, hasn’t the space to accommodate many more bears.

 “The bear sanctuary from Zarnesti has been a unique space in Romania for more than 15 years …it’s essential in the fight to preserve biodiversity in our country, but today this place is approaching maximum capacity.”

Alexe said the ministry would ask the EU for 10 million euros to fund a project in partnership with local authorities in Brasov, he said on Facebook.

He also announced the “largest and most complex study on the population of bears in Romania,” which will tell the Romanian authorities the exact number of bears living in the country.

Bear sanctuary, Zarnesti, environment minister Coste Alexe, Facebook.

He also said the government would roll out a program to prevent conflicts between bears and humans.

 “Romanians living in counties where bears are also to be found will be able to benefit from financing for the purchase of electric fences,” Alexe said.

“Whether … it’s sheep, cottages, households, schools or hospitals, Romanians will be able to better protect their property and lives.”

Romania has about 5,000 to 6,000 bears, the largest population in Europe outside Russia. Their numbers are declining alarmingly due to over hunting.

Romania’s bear population has become a problem as with their natural habitat declining, more bears have descended to inhabited areas in search of food.

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