Sofia, 30.11.21. The WWF Rescue Squad conducted a successful operation to move a bear, identified as problematic. This is the second time in the history of Bulgaria that such an operation is taking place in order to save the bear's life and to ensure the safety and tranquility of the local people. The first one – in September – was also carried out by the WWF Rescue Squad, whose mission is to prevent potential conflicts between humans and bears.
Due to the lack of enough food in the forest this year, the bear is forced to seek refuge near a settlement, where he can get the necessary supplies for hibernation. Thus, he was noticed attacking the apple trees and the garbage containers of the Gabrovo district of Gorni Bakoytsi. At the first signal for a bear entering the town, the WWF Rescue Squad, led by the experienced specialist Vladimir Todorov, left for the place. Analyzing the situation, the experts initially decided to drive the animal out of the area with the help of flares. However, the measure gives a partial result – the animal permanently leaves the apple orchards, but, looking for easy prey, orients himself to the local farms, where he finds domestic rabbits and chickens.
In view of the new situation, the experts consider it necessary to catch and move the bear. For this purpose, they build three feeders, around which they set photo traps and snares. This strategy occurs successful – the animal is trapped near the fence of a private yard. The bear, named Zhivko, was anesthetized so that he could be fitted with a GPS collar (donated by the South-Central State Enterprise) with which the experts from the WWF Rescue Squad could monitor his movement in the future. The measurement shows that Zhivko is about 4-5 years old and weighs 120 kilograms.
"These operations are usually carried out in the night. Sometimes the trap signals a captured bear at 2-3 o'clock at night and we can't afford to wait until the morning because the animal could release itself by then. In these cases, every minute counts. For the overall implementation of the operation, in addition to in-depth knowledge and good equipment, a lot of will and dedication is needed, but it is worth it. The satisfaction is great if you manage to save a life", said Maria Kachamakova, a member of the WWF Rescue Bear Squad.
While the anesthesia lasted, Zhivko was moved to a remote part of the Central Balkan National Park. According to the collar, it is clear that so far the bear has successfully adapted to its new home, far from populated areas.
Open your eyes, the animals disappear
WWF follows its science-based program for prevention of conflicts between bears and humans in the risk areas of the Rhodopes, Rila, Pirin and Central Old Mountain. Experts are actively working to reduce levels of poaching against bears, as well as against other protected species. To this end, they take part in trainings for employees in the relevant institutions, conduct regular research and monitoring, analyze legislation and law enforcement procedures and make recommendations for their improvement.
Apart from the specialists, a key role in saving Zhivko have all WWF donors, who support the activities of the organization for the protection of wildlife in Bulgaria and make such actions possible!
This Christmas, WWF launched the Open Your Eyes, Animals Disappear campaign, which aims to draw public attention to crimes against wildlife in Bulgaria, which seem to go unnoticed in everyday life. Everyone can join the effort to reduce criminal activity in the forests by supporting the campaign at wwf.bg/koleda.
Help us to build a future in which people live in harmony with nature!