This year's Animal of the Year is the brown bear, the Estonian Naturalists' Society (terioloogia selts) announced. The organization is encouraging people to learn more about the creatures during 2022.
The number of bears in Estonia has risen over the last 15 years and their condition is good, the society said.
"At the same time, the large number means that contact between man and bear is also becoming more common. That is why we need to understand the importance of these large carnivores in our nature and their way of life," the organization said in a statement.
The brown bear (Ursus arctos) is usually nocturnal but it is not uncommon to see traces of bears in the forest, such as fresh footprints or looted beehives.
This year the Estonian Naturalists' Society will teach the general public about bears and their habits. Among these activities will be bear-themed conservation evenings, trips to visit bears, an exhibition and a photography contest.
The Year of the Bear will be officially opened at Tallinn Zoo on March 23. The bears, who will likely have woken up from their winter hibernation, will be the guests of honor.
An Animal of the Year has been chosen since 2013.
Editor: Helen Wright