THE ISSUE of bears and other wild animals roaming into human developments has become a top priority for the Association of Mountain Settlements (AHSS).

“It’s not a problem plaguing just the High Tatras region anymore, but other localities, too,” AHSS chairperson Ján Mokoš told the TASR newswire. “And this doesn’t concern only bears, as significant damage is also caused by wild boars and, lately, sheep breeders are having problems with wolves.”

On May 13, the AHSS discussed the problem at its general assembly. The problem stems from overpopulation of these animals in Slovakia, as well as the mishandling of solid communal waste, according to the AHSS, as food lures bears into human dwellings. The association is proposing to introduce reinforced waste disposal stations that would withstand a bear attack, and to ease the current legislative protection of bears.

“If we look at their numbers, bears are no longer an endangered species. Hence, I see the potential for their capture and removal, or to set quotas for a cull,“ said Mokoš.

Experts also point to the problem that large animals crossing forest roads pose to drivers, Muránska Planina National Park zoologist Jer-guš Tesák told TASR. He explained that it is common in spring for these roads to be swarming with game, with animals teaching their offspring how to navigate the area.

“Inexperienced young animals simply don’t know how to react when faced with an approaching vehi- cle,” Tesák said, citing a particular accident that occurred on May 12, when a female bear cub was found seriously injured on the road between the towns of Muráň and Tisovec. The bear was seen crossing the road with her mother and two other cubs, but was hit by a passing car. By the time rangers arrived, the cub had died. Tesák further cautioned that the mother bear could return to the area to search for her missing cub. He mentioned this because a wound on the cub’s leg indicated that the animal survived the collision, but that someone attempted to cut into her leg with a knife.