Romania has given towns and cities the authority to shoot and kill bears that break into yards and houses, angering animal rights and environmental organizations who said the government should try other techniques to prevent the animals from coming into areas where people live.
The government said the new order was a short-term measure to deal with the rise in bear attacks and sightings of the wild animals in populated areas, though it did not give exact figures.
Around 6,000 brown bears live in Romania. Before Wednesday’s new government law, local authorities needed the environment ministry’s approval every time they wanted to kill a brown bear.
Under the new rules, authorities are still encouraged to scare away bears or tranquillize and relocate them before resorting to killing them.
But animal rights and environmental protection groups Agent Green and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said they worried that shooting would now become the rule and not the exception.
Authorities had also not done enough to try other prevention measures like electric fences, they said.
They added that the sightings of the bears have increased because the living areas of the animals have become smaller due to construction, logging and climate change.
Many bears are also attracted by illegal rubbish dumps on the outskirts of cities and by food left by tourists. The government should first address those problems before allowing the killing of the protected animals, they said.
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