Hunter: Bears running out of territory, pushing closer to human settlements

A bear roaming the outskirts of Valga. Young animals have recently been forced closer to villages and towns.
A bear roaming the outskirts of Valga. Young animals have recently been forced closer to villages and towns. Source: EJS

Because the number of bears in Estonia has recently increased, young animals quickly run out of territory and are forced closer to human settlements, hunter Peeter Hussar explained to ERR's Vikerraadio on Monday. This is the reason why bears have become a more recent sight also closer to farms, villages, and towns across the country.

Hussar said on Vikerraadio's morning programme on Monday that in Estonia, the status of bears is different from other animals, as the European Union recognizes them as threatened species, while in Estonia bears are hunted to keep their number under control and prevent damage.

"The number of bears in Estonia has increased, and with it their status has changed," Hussar said. "Bears have long been trophy animals, but now younger animals are becoming a problem." Where the number of licenses has increased, this is because animals in the latter category need to be kept in check.

He said that the continued hunt for bear will also make sure that they keep fearing humans. "The increasing number means that grown animals occupy the available territory, and there is no room left for young animals. And the boldest among them will move closer to human settlements, which is why bears are seen a lot more as well."

Licenses to hunt 69 bears have been issued for this year's season, which started on Aug. 1. This is eight more than in the previous year, but considerably less than the hunters' associations asked for. They wanted to go after 126, Hussar said.

He added that he doesn't have exact numbers yet how many animals have already been shot this year, but estimated the kills after the initial days of the season to be some 10 bears by now.

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Editor: Dario Cavegn

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