Slovenia bears 2.pdf


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THE EXPANDINGBROWNBEAR POPULATION
OF SLOVENIA:A CHANCEFOR
BEAR RECOVERYINTHE SOUTHEASTERNALPS
MIHAADAMIC,
WildlifeEcology Division,ForestryInstitute,BiotechnicalFaculty,Universityof Ljubljana,SLO-1000Ljubljana,
Slovenia, email:miha adamic@uni-lj.si
Abstract: Slovenia is the northwesternedge of the Balcano-Dinaricbrownbear (Ursus arctos) populationarea. A viable populationof about 250
bears inhabitsa core managementarea in southcentralSlovenia. A smallerpopulation,establishedby bears emigratingfrom the core areatoward
the northwest,exists in adjacentborderareas of Slovenia, Austria and Italy. Interstatecooperationis necessary to furtherincrease brown bear
numbersand range of this southeasternalpine population. Preservingmain emigrationcorridorsand improvingthe political habitatfor the future
welfare of bears in the Alps are among the most importanttasks facing bear managers. The problemsarisingfrom increasedsheep predationby
bears in corridorareas, interstatehighway construction,and other humaninfluences affecting the spreadof bears are discussed.
Int. Conf. Bear Res. and Manage. 9(2)25-29
Key words: Alps, brownbear, expandingpopulation,Slovenia, Ursus arctos.

The Republic of Slovenia is a transitionareabetween
the Balcano-Dinaric brown bear range and the Alps.
Sloveniarepresentsthe northwesternedge of the BalcanoDinaricbrownbearpopulation,which encompassesparts
of southcentralSlovenia and the mountainousareas of
Croatia,Bosnia and Herzegovina,Montenegro,Kosovo,
and Macedonia (Fig. 1). The population also extends
south into bear range in Albania and Greece (Mertzanis
1989).
Between 1981 and 1990, the brownbearpopulationin
Slovenia was roughly estimatedat 250-320 animals by
the Slovenian HuntersAssociation. In the same period,
this organizationreported421 bears legally harvested.
This datasuggests thatthe populationin the westernpart
of the Dinaric areais stable.
Since the brownbearwas exterminatedin the Alps before the beginning of the 20th century (Roth 1987), the
Slovenian bear populationis the closest source for bear
populationrecoveryin the southeasternAlps. Duringthe
19th centurythe brown bear was less persecutedon the
Slovenianside of theAlps andin the KaravankeandJulian
Alps, as was the case in the restof Europe(Simonic 1994).
Immigrantbearsfromthe southeastfrequentlypenetrated
the Alps because of preservedhabitatsin the BalcanoDinaric populationarea, the low density of bears in this
area, and preservedmigrationcorridors. Although most
of these bearswere killed by local people, the brownbear
never completely disappearedfrom the Slovenian Alps
(Adamic 1994).
The brown bear now holds the attentionand sympathies of people in Europe. Greatefforts are being made
to conserve isolated remnantpopulationsof bears in the
Spanish and French Pyrenees, the Trentinoarea in the
ItalianAlps, and in Norway. In Austriaand France,reintroductionof wild bears into areas of their formerrange
are in progress(Adamic 1994).

MANAGEMENT
AREAS
Because of pronounceddifferencesin ecological characteristics, habitat suitabilities, and brown bear densities, 2 differentsystems of brownbearmanagementwere
implemented in Slovenia in 1966. An area of about
3,000 km2in southcentralSlovenia was declareda core
managementarea (Fig. 2). About 70% of this core area
is covered by mixed Dinaric beech-fir (Fagetum

Fig. 1. Relationship between Slovenia as a transition area
between the Balcano-Dinaric brown bear range (1) and the
Alps (2).