STA, 26 February 2020 - With spring approaching, farmers in areas that have seen an influx in bear and wolf attacks in the recent years worry that letting their animals out to pasture would prove fatal despite the emergency measures taken last year to decrease the population of large carnivores in Slovenia.
Between July 2019 and the end of January, the bear population has been reduced by 172 and the wolf population by 11, nearly on target with an emergency law passed last year. Specially authorised hunters shot 161 bears and four wolves, the rest died due to other reasons.
Nonetheless, 22 attacks on sheep, cattle and horses have been reported this year so far, the Environment Ministry told the STA.
No additional culling measures are planned at this point, and large carnivores can only be shot if they pose significant threat to humans and property, and under strict rules.
What is more, the Environment Ministry must draft a new quota reasoning for bears after an environmental NGO successfully challenged the previous one in administrative court in April 2019.
The ministry told the STA that the reasoning would be based on proving that the number of conflicts continued to increase despite measures addressing cohabitation issues.
The reasoning will also have to submit scientific proof that the planned cull quota will ensure an appropriate decrease in population to lower or stop the increase in conflicts.
Last year, bears attacked 461 times and wolves 327 times. Expert estimates suggested that some 1,000 bears lived in Slovenia last year and about 80 wolves.
Now, farmers in the woody Kočevje area are worried that they will face the same problems as last year once they let their animals out to pasture this spring.
"We are afraid that wolves will kill [our sheep] and we will lose everything. Many farmers have heard wolves gathering around sheep pens already," the civil initiative Aktivna Kočevska has said in a letter addressed to Agriculture Minister Aleksandra Pivec.
They demand that the population of large carnivores be reduced to "numbers acceptable to the environment", which they believe was last the case in 1999 and 2000.
First step to this end may be made today, as the upper chamber of parliament, the National Council, discusses another emergency bill for the culling of large carnivores drafted by one of the national councillors.