Human – wildlife conflicts: over 100 interventions of the wildlife intervention rapid team and yet the problems continue

By 18 November 2019 No Comments

In June this year, Foundation Conservation Carpathia, together with the CARPATHIA entities, set up the first rapid intervention team for the management of human – wildlife conflicts, in the southeast of the Făgăraș mountains. During this period, more than 100 problem solving actions were taken.

The management of hunting areas comes with a great responsibility: the prevention of conflicts and the reduction of damage caused by wild animals. This must be done with respect for both humans and nature.

The intervention team – problems and results

The intervention team includes rangers, hunting guards, representatives of the Argeș County Gendarmes Inspectorate and a veterinarian.
The wild boar that spoil the annual hay harvest, necessary for the livestock breeders, together with bears looking for food sources in the stables were the main problems registered against the hunting grounds in the south-east of the Făgăraș mountains.

“The fauna is the property of the Romanian State, and the legislation is strict, but it can be improved, “says Mihai Zotta, Carpathia Forestry Chief. “First of all, regarding the Ministry of Environment’s response time to bear relocation / elimination authorizations. There are also malfunctions regarding the lack of legally approved measures, until the derogation is obtained.
“Following a recent meeting at Rucăr City Hall, considering the need to find measures to reduce the pressure generated by bears on communities in the short term, we agreed with the members of the Local Council to draw up a joint memorandum to obtain derogations for relocating bears preventively, without the need to register two damages generated by the same bear, the rule that is now in force. In the project area we relocated a male bear in August, and we are sure he did not return. In October we eliminated a 4-year-old female and recently we obtained a third authorisation from the Ministry of Environment for relocating another specimen, which we have been following for several weeks, night after night and which represents a threat to the locals. As for the wild boar, this season we extracted, for example, from the hunting fund ’22 Rucăr’, 10 boar, strictly from the areas bordering the localities. There are problems, but we are working to reduce them,” says Mihai Zotta.

The year 2019 has begun and ends with the accentuation of the problems generated by the bears that have carried out attacks in the Rucăr Commune and which have a relatively constant presence in the area. The reasons are complex and not yet fully understood. They relate to the lack of natural food sources in the forest – there is absolutely no beech fruit this year and there was a low quantity of mushrooms. And the wild boar groups, which are concentrated near Rucăr, attract bears.

To ensure proper management based on avoiding dangerous situations, it is necessary for field personnel to collect a series of information that will later lead to correct decisions and measures being taken. Day- or night-time patrols, the use of trap cameras, the collection of genetic evidence, the joint activities with the Gendarmerie, are only part of these measures. All of this information is intended to help identify problem specimens and establish a set of appropriate measures.

“Free installation of electric fences at sheepfolds or around exposed farms, patrols for the removal of wild animals using acoustic or light means, the placement of vegetable food for deviation, in remote areas, according to the legislation in force, relocation and, finally, without any positive results and with authorisation, the elimination of the dangerous specimens, these are the measures we have taken on the surface managed by us, about 70,000 ha,” says Mihai Zotta, Chief of the Carpathia Forestry District. “The donation of the first 11 puppies from the Carpathian shepherd dogs breeding programme completes these measures and we will keep this initiative for years to come. We will continue to grant private financial compensation for the damage caused by wild boar and we will start next year to provide compensation in kind, for the damage caused by carnivores, by replacing the sheep or cows lost following the attacks with animal stock raised on our specially set up farm. Also, each year we will purchase ten electric fences to be made available to people who have problems with carnivore attacks. All these compensations, however, will only be granted where minimum security measures will be met which the locals must provide, such as fencing the property, using guard dogs, supervising livestock and especially proper waste management,” says Mihai.

Damage assessment is a process that requires increased attention and involves an investigation to confirm the attack of a wild animal, rather than other causes. The RO-ALERT national system plays an important role, which alerts citizens by text messages to the potential dangers. But the need for a coherent, nationally applicable way of working, combined with an assessment of the numbers of large carnivores using DNA methods is an urgent need in the management of wild animals.

“The hunting practiced by us is not for trophies, but utilitarian with the purpose of diminishing these conflicts,” says Bogdan Sulică, rapid intervention team coordinator, Foundation Conservation Carpathia. “The harvest quotas imposed by the management contract are realized in the areas bordering the localities, only where problems arise. Local hunters are also involved in this activity, which is a way to promote our vision on hunting management.”

About the project

The development of actions aimed at managing human – wildlife conflicts is carried out within the project “Creation of a Wilderness Reserve in the Southern Carpathian Mountains, Romania”, implemented by Foundation Conservation Carpathia in partnership with the Carpathia entities (Carpathia Forest District, Piatra Craiului Hunting Association), as well as ProPark Foundation for Protected Areas, Conservation Capital (UK), Bath and Associations (Canada), with financial support from the Arcadia Foundation through the Endangered Landscapes Program and the European Commission through the LIFE program. The main purpose of the project is the restoration of the degraded habitats and the application of conservation measures on an area large enough to allow natural processes to take place, to benefit biodiversity and local communities.

The main activities of the project are related to re-planting the clear-cuts and restoring alpine areas and converting artificial spruce monocultures to natural forests. Bison and beavers will be reintroduced to increase biological diversity and the best solutions for managing human-wildlife conflict will be identified. We will also work closely with local communities to understand the needs and opinions of the people in the area of the project, by establishing a dialogue platform and organizing local events. In addition, local communities will benefit from free specialist support in order to request financing, compensation and subsidies, but also for the development of local conservation enterprises.