Growing bear population threatens locals in northeastern Turkey

Published 04.03.2019 00:09

A rise in their number and a change in their hibernation habits make bears more dangerous to humans in the eastern Black Sea region, experts warn. Descending to residential areas from mountains in search of food, bears raise concerns for locals.

Professor Şağdan Başkaya, an academic who researches wildlife in the region, says bears tend to stay away from humans, but accidental confrontations may have "unwanted consequences." Researchers surveying the mountainous eastern Black Sea region discovered a 10 percent increase in wildlife, from bears to mountain goats, foxes and boars, shedding light on increasing bear attacks on humans. Bears also threaten crops and livestock. Başkaya said the lack of snowfall this year caused bears to skip hibernation.

"This is a season where they search for food when they do not hibernate. People should be more careful about confrontations with them. Bears usually keep their distance from humans, but sometimes encounters are inevitable," he said. He added that 22 people were killed in the past decade due to bear attacks, while another 100 were injured and suffered trauma. "We see more bears skipping hibernation, and people who travel to higher ground, especially on nature excursions, may come across a bear at any time," he said. What to do when one encounters a bear? It is simple for professor Başkaya.

"You have to be as noisy as you can and try to avoid staying alone. If you are alone, you can sing loudly so that bears can hear you, become aware of your presence and change their path. You should not let your children wander around alone while in areas with a known bear population," he warned.

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