Wednesday, October 18, 2017
   
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History and Distribution

Distribution

Europe predi  Europe sega

In the past, almost the entire European continent was populated by bears. Today, Bulgaria, along with Russia, Romania, Sweden and Finland, is among the very few countries in Europe boasting a significant and stable brown bear population. The brown bear is distributed predominantly in mountainous areas: the central Balkan Range, Vitosha, Rila, Pirin and the Western Rhodope Mountains. Motorways and other major transport arteries bisect the population into two almost isolated subgroups: the Balkan and the Rila-Rhodopean. Estimates put the number of bears inhabiting the Rila-Rhodopean range (in Bulgaria and northeastern Greece) at about 550 specimens, and of the central Balkan subpopulation, at about 200 bears.

Hunters and forestry workers have recently been reporting a growing population of bears in Bulgaria, especially in the Rhodope Mountains. The numbers they cite clash with the evidence of environmentalists and scientists, which indicates a much smaller population size. Such a discrepancy may be due to the fact that the same animal can be ‘head-counted’ at 3 or 4 different locations, because of its huge roaming range.

It seems as though the expected natural growth of some 200 cubs per year vanishes into thin air, as there have been no changes in the official numbers for the past 25 years. The only explanation experts have for this is poaching, which has been flourishing.

The largest terrestrial carnivore in Bulgaria needs large and unbroken territory, rich in food, as its habitat. The individual perimeter of an average adult male subsumes within itself the areas of several females, while occasionally, where sufficient ford is available, can overlap with the perimeters of other males. Sometimes, albeit rarely, a sumptuous ‘smorgasbord’ of ripe bilberries, cornel-cherries, plum orchards or cornfields can draw several bears together, feasting side by side without apparent rivalry.

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