Romanian authorities usually get flak when they fail to advise citizens of potential dangers. But emergency officials in Transylvania say local residents are ticked off by the number of “bear alerts” they get on their phones.
The head of the Inspectorate for Emergency Situations in Brasov Lt. Col. Lucian Marciu said Tuesday that citizens were “cursing” officials about Ro-Alert messages that warned about the presence of bears in the vicinity, news agency Agerpres reported.
“We accept the curses because it’s about saving lives,” he said, recalling a recent bear attack in Mures county where a man who was out fishing was fatally attacked, and another was hospitalized.
Authorities “will keep sending the alerts, regardless of whether we annoy the inhabitants of Brasov.”
Some residential areas are known to be frequented by bears. “There are people who come home late from work or the restaurant or the club, and these messages can save lives.”
He said emergency authorities had sent a total of 38 bear alerts, a flood alert, a hurricane alert, a storm alert and an orange code weather warning since the beginning of the year.
Romania has an estimated 6,000 brown bears, the highest number of any country in Europe, and the population has increased in recent years, particularly in mountainous areas. As their natural habit has declined, the animals have descended to residential areas in search of food.
Bears can be seen in resorts or along roads in parts of Transylvania and other regions where they scavenge for food or are fed by tourists.
The number of bear attacks against livestock and humans has also increased with tourists taking risks by feeding the animals or taking photos of them
The environment ministry banned the shooting of bears in 2016. But a year later, the new government said it would allow 140 bears and 97 wolves to be killed “under supervision” if they were deemed to be “nuisance animals” that threaten livestock on farms or frighten people by wandering into inhabited areas.