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Payment of damages

There have been cases reported in Bulgaria of bears damaging beehives, breaking branches off trees in orchards, attacking domestic animals, or approaching small towns or villages to feed off garbage dumps. This typically happens in sparsely populated, economically underdeveloped areas, where the locals rely mostly on the land and wild nature for their subsistence. Such cases of bear-caused damage are rare, isolated and typically not very serious; yet, because of the absence of other sources of livelihood they have a strong negative impact on the well-being of humans and bears alike.

Small patches of woodland rich in forest fruits, tucked away far from population centers, provide bears with food during the active foraging season, therefore reducing the need for them to come closer to humans, and thus lowering the chances of bear mischief. Man-made plantations of raspberries, apples, wild pears, rowans, plums or other fruits would also give excellent results.

In Bulgaria there is a mechanism to remedy damages caused by brown bears to livestock and bee farms. In the course of 2009 alone, such compensations have totaled over BGN 60,000 (€30,000).

To claim damages, the aggrieved party must apply to the nearest municipality or state forestry authority. Traces at the scene of the alleged attack must be intact and the evidence must be unhampered with, if it is to be accepted as proof that the damages were indeed inflicted by a brown bear.

Complainants must have a title of ownership and registration in their name of the damaged property, or a permit or contract allowing them to use the relevant area for pasturing. Authorities verify that all necessary precautions had indeed been taken prior to the occurrence of the incident, in compliance with the Protection of Agricultural Property Act. A task force is then dispatched to establish the severity and value of the damages.

Another possibility to claim compensation is via an insurance scheme of the ‘civil liability’ type. This is how damages caused by wild boars are compensated in Germany.

The European Union (EU) encourages people to take precautionary measures in advance rather than seek compensation after the fact. Financial support schemes are in place to assist farmers in securing their property, e.g. by installing electric perimeter fences, etc. Without an effective program for safeguarding their property and livestock, farmers are not eligible to apply for EU subsidies for the development of stockbreeding, beekeeping or agriculture.

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