Expert: Nothing remarkable about a bear swimming to Hiiumaa

The bear spotted on the western island of Hiiumaa.
The bear spotted on the western island of Hiiumaa. Source: ERR

A recent appearance of a bear on the island of Hiiumaa is not a unique occurrence despite the swim needed to get there, one expert says.

Former Tallinn Zoo director and zoologist Mati Kaal said this was among: "The most common of ecological process."

"Young male bears who don't have their own territory, older cubs ahead of them everywhere, are often looking for new territory," Kaal told Vikerraadio Saturday morning.

Eurasian brown bears (Ursus arctos arcto) are good swimmers, he added, capable of covering 30-40km in a stretch, and may negotiate their way between the mainland and the western archipelago in this way.

The appearance of the bear earlier in the week (pictured) suggested the animal had reached Hiiumaa either from the mainland or from the adjacent island of Saaremaa.

Kaal said he has encountered brown bears in the woods in the past, adding that it is not a scary experience, but rather more of an uplifting one.

Indeed, a hare is much fiercer, he added, though exceptions here include the rather obvious necessity to avoid getting between a mother bear and her cubs.

Also, avoiding sudden movements is recommended – freezing still is preferable to fleeing.

Estonia's brown bear population has been estimated at in excess of 1,000, with recent interactions with humans in more densely populated areas include a case where a mother and her cub made their way into the Rocca al Mare district of Tallinn.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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