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- Why are bears important for people?


The unique world of bear habitats in Bulgaria offers an invaluable opportunity for marketing an attractive ecotourism product: watching the species in its natural environment. The presence of bears in any given area is bound to attract tourists willing to learn about the animals’ way of life and behavior while becoming familiar with numerous interesting and useful plant and animal species in their habitats. If the experience is exciting and instructive, they are likely to come back, bringing others with them. This in turn will offer opportunities for livelihood and revenue for the local communities. At the international tourism market, this type of product is in great demand, fetching some of the highest prices for tourist services.

Countries like neighboring Romania, Finland and others gain popularity and earn good proceeds from such tourist services. Bulgaria has the unique advantage of offering certain live encounters in the Dancing Bears’ Park near Belitza, making the country an even more attractive destination for ‘bear tourism’.

Good examples of innovative tourism products in the Eastern Rhodope Mountains include a visit to a local cave, once the lair of a cave bear, a species that has been extinct for 14,000 years. Visitors can also watch brown bears from a specially constructed shelter or view videos of bears and other wild animals captured by a phototrap.

The local population of the Balkan Range, Pirin and the Rodope Mountains can use the bear symbol in order to boost the market value of traditional local products. Anything created by local artisans and craftsmen can be labeled with the ‘bear sign’ as a certificate of origin from an area with rich, well-conserved forests. Such products are prized and sought after all over the world.


What to do in an encounter with a bear?

What to do in an encounter with a bear? When crossing ‘bear country’, be sure to make sufficient noise – whether by talking, whistling, or stomping your feet – in order for bears to sense your presence from at least 30 meters away. If you move quietly, you may stumble upon a bear’s ‘personal space and startle it. Feeling under threat, the bear can react on an impulse and simply run over you before retreating. Usually you will get away with a bruise or two, some scratches and cuts and a big fright.

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