This season's bear cull quota set at just under 100 animals

A brown bear in an Estonian forest.
A brown bear in an Estonian forest. Source: ERR

The Environmental Board (Keskonnaamet) has set this year's bear cull quota at 96.

This figure equates to around 10 percent of the total number of Eurasian Brown Bears (Ursus arctos arctos) in Estonia, and is also close to the annual rise in population, the board says.

This growth has been ongoing for the past 15 years, to the extent that there are an estimated 900-950 brown bears in Estonia.

Damage to beehives, farms and encounters with humans are among the problems which arise from the bear-human interface, and such incidents have also risen in frequency.

Cases of bear cubs becoming lost and disoriented in zones of human settlement have also been on the rise.

Incidents where bear and human cross paths are more concerning if they happen outside of the animal's normal habitat, Leelo Kukk, the board's deputy director general of wildlife, said.​​

"This means that in addition to protecting bears, we must also limit their number," Kukk went on.

The species remains strictly protected, and culling is only permitted in exceptional cases in order to prevent damage and ensure safety, once all alternatives have been exhausted, the board says.

The culling season runs from August 1 to October 31 inclusive, while the quota is divided up by county; the heavily forested Lääne-Viru County has been allocated the largest single bear cull quota for this season, at 16 animals.

For the remaining counties, the quotas are 15 (Ida-Viru County), 13 (Jõgeva and Järva counties), 11 (Harju County), eight (Tartu County), seven (Viljandi County), five (Pärnu County), three (Rapla County), two (Põlva County) and one apiece in Lääne, Valga and Võru counties.

The Environmental Board says it sets its culling and hunting volumes based on the number of bears in the context of the large carnivore protection and control plan. The latter stipulates that the number of litters of cubs must number at least 70. In 2022, there were 96 litters, a 20-year high.


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Editor: Mirjam Mäekivi, Andrew Whyte

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