The number of bears living in the neighborhood of Estonia's capital is rising.
Estonian forest magazine Eesti Mets reported in 1921 that there were only 1-2 bears left in Estonia at the time. According to zoologist Harri Valdmann, after the War of Independence (1918-1920) only about 13 percent of Estonia was covered in forests, so bears lacked suitable habitats. Brown bears were placed under protection in Estonia in 1934 and the population has grown ever since. In the 1990s it was estimated to number around 1,000-1,200 individuals, but exact numbers have always been difficult to determine.
According to a recent study, Estonian forests are currently home to around 700 brown bears. The numbers have recently increased - especially in Harju county, which surrounds the capital - reaching around 60 individuals, Maaleht reported. In general, there are more bears in the north of the country and less in the south.
Last year the hunters shot 36 bears. The number is expected to increase this year.
With the hibernation period now over, the 'bloodless hunt' is also in full swing. Many hungry bears have been captioned by the numerous wildlife cameras set up in feedings sites, as well as by people, lucky enough to meet the furballs in their natural habitat.
However, according to Valdmann, the best chance to see a bear in Estonia is on grain fields in early autumn mornings or late evenings.
Photo: Elin Soomets
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Editor: M. Oll