Conservation Interventions

Nino Salkic

Conservation Interventions

A crucial part of LIFE Bear-Smart Corridors are the conservation actions that take place on the ground. These actions focus on the development of Bear-Smart Communities through the combination of human-bear coexistence measures and the improvement of bear habitat.

C1. Development and operation of Bear-Smart Communities

This action will develop 16 Bears-Smart Communities (BSCs) in Italy and 2 in Greece, formalised through municipal agreements. A Bear-Smart Community is a community of practice aiming to improve coexistence with bears. Members of BSCs are local villagers, farmers as well as private and public entities, that collectively develop and implement best-practices to reduce human-bear conflicts within their community.

A holistic approach is required working with everyone in the community so that measures are tailored to the unique circumstances of each community but the general requirements are to:

1. Complete a bear hazard assessment – an assessment of critical places for bear-human interactions and threats to bears in each BSC.

2. Prepare a human-bear conflict protocol that addresses the bear hazards and land-use conflicts identified in the previous step and recognise the Bear Intervention Units in charge of each BSC.

3. Revise planning and decision-making documents at a municipal level to be consistent with the human-bear conflict management plan.

4. Implement an effective stakeholder engagement programme that targets all sectors of the community.

5. Develop and maintain an effective bear-proof, solid-waste management system.

6. Follow the “Bear Smart” guidelines that prohibit access of bears to anthropogenic food-source

C2. Modify water-wells that might represent a danger for bears

Unsecured water wells or water tanks for irrigation or fire extinguish purposes located in forested areas havebeen proved to be a worldwide threat for wildlife. In both Italy and Greece several cases of trapped brown bears, with most resulting in fatalities, have been recorded in the past decade.

Interventions envisaged to make wells safe include: ramp construction, metal grids to cover wells and metal fencing around wells, with a preference towards ramp construction to allow safe access to water by large animals such as bears.


C3. Habitat improvement

Agricultural abandonment has allowed progressive encroachment by scrub and woodland across a formerly agricultural landscape. In many cases, this has been positive for wildlife allowing greater diversity and abundance. However, orchards and alpine buckthorn stands are particularly important food sources for bears in the crucial run up to hibernation. As scrub encroaches orchards, the abundance of fruit reduces. Bears might then range into less suitable village areas in search for food. By reducing scrub encroachment food supplies are restored, allowing bears adequate food away from villages reducing human-bear conflict potential.

C4. Provide 500 livestock farms, apiaries and chicken barns with damage prevention structures

By reducing conflict between wildlife and agricultural activities, retaliatory actions are also reduced. More importantly, people are more accepting of living in and around wildlife such as large mammals. This action aims to protect at least 500 livestock farms with bear-resistant chicken houses, electric fences or metal gates to achieve a reduction of potential damages to the local farming practices and consequent conflicts. To ensure the uptake of this best practice, farmers benefiting of these prevention measures will be actively involved in the installation and maintenance as a practical activity in capacity enhancement workshops.

C5. Reduce organic waste accessibility to bears

Bears are opportunist omnivores and are attracted to rubbish bins and other easily available food sources. This attracts bears into areas of human habitation which can cause conflict. This action is therefore aimed at reducing organic waste availability close to human settlements, by installing bear-proof rubbish bins. The action also reduces the likelihood of bears becoming habituated to humans. Efforts are strongly tied to education and awareness programmes to encourage people to be responsible and ensure that food that might be attractive to bears (e.g. petfood or organic waste) is not left outside and unprotected.

C6. Capacity building workshops for Government Agencies, Parks, farmers, hunters and other conservation actors

To enhance human-bear coexistence, we want to enable and establish positive relationships and links among local stakeholders and brown bear conservation actions. Through the implementation of workshops, the action aims to involve specific stakeholders in developing best practice guidelines to improve coexistence with bears. The workshops are designed to exchange knowledge and build trust with these stakeholders so they can feel engaged in the Bear-Smart Community process and actively and consciously contribute to some BSC actions.

C7. Produce and disseminate 400 anti-poisoning first aid kits to public agencies and farmers to address poisoning incidents to livestock guarding dogs

The use of Livestock Guarding Dogs is a non-invasive, and affordable approach to protect livestock from wildlife attacks. However, in Greece where poisoned baits are commonly used illegally as a lethal measure against large carnivores, Livestock Guarding Dogs are also under constant threat and these practices have repeatedly been recognized by farmers to cause significant economic losses.

This action, developed in the Greek project area, aims to reduce mortality rates of guarding dogs through consumption of poisoned baits. To achieve this, a First Aid Anti-Poison Kit will be formed and delivered to livestock farmers and hunters and will include the needed veterinary medicines,consumables, and biosafety equipment.

C8. Establish and operate rapid intervention teams that can quickly mitigate human-bear conflicts and help to monitor project progress

This action aims at establishing Bear Intervention Units (BIU) at a local, Bear-Smart Community level. These teams will be on stand-by and ready to intervene in each specific case involving human-bear interactions, with scientific/technical expertise in order to mitigate/resolve conflicts in the best possible way. These efforts will enhance the functionality of the corridors through social acceptance and consequently increase functional dispersal of bears in the landscape.