READER’S LETTER and VIDEO: Encounter with bear

Submitted by Looduskalender EN on Mon, 03.07.2017 - 09:18

Text and video Mati Sepp
Video: LINK

Translation Liis


On leaving home we never know how many sparrows on the branch we will see or if we will hear the nightingale singing in the shrubs at all, but when we go along a forest path there is always the dream deep down that we might meet a bear. But to be honest, even with the growing population of bears in Estonia it is almost impossible to meet them. The reason is very simple, bears deliberately avoid contact with humans and the occasions are few when the bear has not detected the human; in such rare cases it is possible to meet them. So it happened to me. At midsummer I saw a female bear with two cubs and now a single young bear who can be seen in the video.

How to behave when you meet a bear in the forest? I would say the golden rule is that in no circumstances start running. At least not before the bear starts to run away from you into the forest When the bear is fleeing and you are quite sure of it you are safe to run yourself, if that makes you feel better, but actually there is no need for it.

If the bear is not aware of your presence then it is useful to let him know by starting a conversation with him. That should be quite enough. And a rule even more important than the first rule is not to approach bear cubs, never in any case, not even when they come towards you looking for contact. The bear mother does not feel kindly about a strange ”nanny” and so the situation can even end sadly for the human.

But how is life overall for bears in Estonia? We know that before winter arrives bears eat themselves properly fat in order to have their winter sleep. In spring they wake up and life begins ”from the beginning”.

The bears that wake up in spring are hungry after the long fast and head as the first thing towards the feeding areas set up by hunters over the years. More than ten thousand such wild boar feeding places exist in Estonia, and bears have never had to fear starvation in spring. But what if there suddenly are no boar feeding grounds when the bears wake up in spring? Good question …

Actually wild boar feeding is legally allowed only in very small quantities and these quantities will not fill the stomach of any bear. Rather, it makes them properly angry and mad, ”so why is there no food any more…”.

Fortunately or unfortunately, the hunters have decided still to go on with feeding boars and in planned amounts so that the bears will have a proper meal in familiar places this spring. Presumably part of the hunters break the law but there is no good weather without bad.

But as time goes on the more complicated the life of hunters becomes, and so the feeding grounds for wild boar become fewer. How will the increasing population of bears react in a couple of years to the fact that no free dinners are handed out in spring? A newspaper article this spring that discussed bears that came close to Rakke to look for food in the refuse bins can help to give an idea.

Looking at the plain truth, hunters have a much greater role in influencing nature than we can imagine, or that the hunters might want to admit themselves.

How and what will be the life of bears in future? Can the encounters between bears and humans get a negative aspect? Time will tell.

But one thing is clear: hunger forces humans to do mad things. What then to expect from wild animals if for instance bears in springtime are left without free food. Some males of several hundred kilos may not accept this peacefully, not to speak of the young ones