STA, 13 August 2021 - As many as 130 brown bears were culled in Slovenia this year until 11 August, of which 121 were hunted on the basis of the Environment Agency's permits and nine were found dead, the Environment Ministry told the STA on Friday, four days after a brown bear attacked a local while he was jogging near the town of Pivka, SW.
Monday's attack was examined by Slovenia Forest Service experts, who established that the 30-year-old must have surprised the she-bear, which had no other way to escape than in his direction.
The bear attacked him, he fought back, which made the bear retreat but she returned and attacked again. The man sustained injuries on his head, neck and arms, and broke his wrist while fighting the bear. He was then taken to hospital, but his injuries were not life-threatening, the victim's father told the press this week.
After inspecting the site of the attack, the Forest Service did not issue an opinion on culling, so the Environment Agency has not issued a culling permit.
The Environment Ministry said that the country's brown bear population "is favourable with an improving trend".
The 2020-2023 brown bear management guidelines say that the country's 2020 bear population in spring, which is the highest within a year, is 990, while its actual number is probably between 860 and 1,120.
Brown bear can present a physical threat to people, but attacks are relatively rare. Forest Service data shows there are an average two attacks annually.
However, there are several "make believe" attacks when a bear chases a person only to scare them, but then stops, it does not attack, Peter Krma from Forest Service has told the newspaper Primorske Novice.
This week's was the first reported bear attack on a human in Slovenia after May 2020, when a 56-year-old man stumbled upon a bear in the woods near Škofljica, just south of Ljubljana.
STA, 13 August 2021 - Europe's biggest charcoal pile will be lit at Dole pri Litiji some 40km east of Ljubljana this afternoon in what is another record set by Slovenia in charcoal burning. The event, held by the Slovenian Charcoal Burners Association, will be addressed by Speaker Igor Zorčič and Karl Josef Tielke, the head of the European Charcoal Burners Association.
Apart from the largest charcoal pile, Slovenia is also home to the largest number of such piles Europe-wide. The visit by the head of the European Charcoal Burners Association shows that Slovenian charcoal burners are respected in the European community, Jože Prah, the head of the Slovenian association told the STA.
The organisation numbers more than 100 members and has been a part of its European counterpart since 2018 alongside eight other European countries. Slovenian charcoal burners will meet on Saturday morning as well to mark the occasion.
Charcoal burning used to be a method applied across all continents. Today, charcoal burners use standard, vertical piles, Prah explained, adding that it was best if wood was thicker.
Inside the pile a fire is then lit to produce charcoal and spruce needles and a layer of soil is put around the chimney to make sure the air is circulating and the pile does not burn down. The fire should never burn fiercely, rather just a little to get the process of making charcoal going.
Prah finds charcoal burning a tradition that highlights the uniqueness of Slovenia's countryside, helps preserve the cultural landscape, adds value to less valued wood products and increases care for young forests. It also provides an opportunity to boost "the social capital of the countryside".
In the past, it was a popular tradition and even now charcoal burners are still lighting piles in more than 20 towns and villages in Slovenia every year, mainly for tourism purposes. Some owners of forest land also use charcoal burning as an additional source of income. Prah thus concluded there was no fear the activity would die out.
STA, 12 August 2021 - The country is introducing the rule of being tested for or vaccinated against Covid or having recovered from it for a number of activities, while abolishing free rapid tests. While these will be paid for by employers for the workers who need them to do their job, university and secondary school students will have to pay for them themselves.
Student representatives strongly oppose having to pay for rapid testing themselves, which will be no longer free of charge from 23 August, except for some groups.
They will cost EUR 12, and are expected to have to be taken every two days, since a rapid antigen test result is valid for 48 hours.
At present, workers in healthcare, care homes and schools who have not been vaccinated or have recovered from Covid have to be tested once a week.
The government is expected to make it into a rule that all education workers must meet the recovered-vaccinated-tested (PCT) rule as of 16 August, when exam resits begin.
Health Ministry State Secretary Franc Vindišar said everything was ready to launched voluntary self-testing at home as the new school year starts on 1 September.
Compulsory vaccination for education workers is not being considered, while self-testing for kids in the last three years of primary school is to be introduced.
If the epidemiological situation remains as it is now, self-testing will also be introduced for secondary schools students, the state secretary said.
However, he said the option of a PCT rule for secondary schools was also being considered.
He also announced compliance for university students would be checked with digital technologies. He favours a QR code scanner to be installed at entries to faculties.
The state secretary said a meeting between representatives of students, faculties, health and education ministries would be held this month to discuss details.
He also welcomed the fact that students have accepted the recovered-vaccinated-tested rule as a way of keeping universities open.
However, while university and secondary schools student representatives understand the need for the rule, they oppose payable testing and urge self-testing for secondary school students and teachers, while complaining about the lack of information.
Organisations representing secondary schools students fear that poorer students will not be able to afford rapid tests.
Frančiška Al-Mansour, head of the Association of Secondary Schools, would prefer keeping once-a-week self-testing from the end of the last school year for students.
The Student of Organisation of Slovenia (ŠOS) is meanwhile surprised at the Health Ministry's statement that student organisations support the new conditions.
ŠOS head Andrej Pirjevec said "free testing is the only way for public education to be truly accessible in the coming school year, so we will do everything for tests to remain free of charge".
Pirjevec urged teachers and students at all levels of education to get vaccinated, with Vindišar calling on teachers to do so to serve as a role model to others.
Among those proposing for the recovered-vaccinated-tested rule to be introduced at higher education institutions was the Chancellors' Conference.
"If we want to return to in-person study process, PCT is an urgently needed basis to ensure everyone's safety and health," said Zdravko Kačič, the head of the Chancellors' Conference.
He also said that universities were not in a position to cover the costs of self-tests.
The Youth Council also welcomed the PCT system as a solution to allow all schoolchildren and students to return to schools and colleges in the autumn, but they believe secondary and university students should be eligible for free tests.
The state secretary said the idea behind new rules was to keep schools open even in the worst-case epidemic scenario.
He also told the press as he visited Cerknica that epidemiologists are still able to follow contacts of the infected persons.
But with the reproduction number increasing at the current rate, they could easily no longer be able to do so in 15 days.
STA, 12 August 2021 - The Perseid meteor shower will reach its peak tonight with meteors being most visible in areas without artificial lighting between 9pm and midnight or until the Moon overshadows them, the Cosmolab organisation has told the STA.
Andrej Guštin of Cosmolab, an organisation promoting astrophysics, explained that meteors or shooting stars become visible roughly somewhere about 90 kilometres above Earth. They shoot through the atmosphere at a speed of approximately 60km/s, creating a streak of light.
The Perseids are a result of the Swift-Tuttle comet, which left a stream of debris in its wake and is currently still circling the Sun. The meteor shower, named after the constellation Perseus, which appears to be their starting point, can be spotted in the night sky from 17 July to 24 August every year when the Earth travels through Swift-Tuttle's orbit.
Meteor spotters or those who would like to make a wish on a shooting star are advised to lie down on the ground tonight to get in the best position to observe the upcoming meteor spectacle, said Guštin, noting that skywatchers are in for an additional treat since Jupiter and Saturn will also be visible as the night sky is expected to be clear.
STA, 11 August 2021 - Compliance with the recovered-vaccinated-tested rule will be a prerequisite for attending university lectures in the next academic year, Health Ministry State Secretary Franc Vindišar has said. The ministry proposes voluntary self-testing for secondary school students, but if Slovenia enters tier red, they will need the Covid certificate.
"Our wish is for schools to stay open. We know that was a major issue in the past and the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport will do its best to ensure they remain open," Vindišar told the press on Wednesday.
He said that student organisations had agreed to the condition of Covid certificate compliance in the case of university lectures.
The ministry's Covid-19 advisory group proposed the same rule for secondary schools, but "everyone wishes to move forward with the gradual model", which envisages Covid certificate compliance as a prerequisite for in-person education after the country moves to the red phase of epidemiological status under criteria by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the state secretary said.
In primary schools, pupils in the last three years could get self-tested if they wish so. If there should be any outbreaks or clusters of coronavirus cases in individual areas, local schools might be closed, however, generally speaking, the ministry will aim to keep schools open, he said.
Vindišar also noted that the vaccination rate among school workers was not sufficient with the ministry urging them to get a jab. According to some sources, the rate stands at approximately 50%.
National Institute of Public Health head Milan Krek called on youths to get vaccinated as well, pointing out that the latest cases most frequently stem from the 15-24 age group. The average age of the infected is 33, he added.
Vindišar said vaccination trends were not favourable as the figures were much too low to contain the epidemic, warning that the situation was deteriorating.
Currently, almost 40% of the population has been fully immunised and 45% has received the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. Some 31% of the 18-24 age group have been fully protected against Covid-19 and 37% has been jabbed once.
The ministry intends to launch additional mobile vaccination services next week as such units have proved successful, particularly in the countryside.
The Jožef Stefan Institute said today the country has already moved to the orange phase under ECDC criteria and will, given the current trend, move to red in early September.
Such epidemiological developments mean that the recovered-vaccinated-tested rule will have to become mandatory in all areas, including healthcare, education, the hospitality sector, culture, sports and public life, Vindišar said.
STA, 2 August 2021 - A centre will open in Pivka on Monday presenting three species of large carnivores living in Slovenia - the brown bear, wolf and lynx. Center Dina is a continuation of a European project Carnivora Dinarica, aimed at protecting the carnivores and promoting co-existence.
The project Carnivora Dinarica: Cross-border cooperation and ecosystem services in the long-term preservation of large carnivore populations in the northern Dinarides is a Slovenian-Croatian project that started in September 2018 and concludes at the end of the month.
The lead partner of the project was the World Wildlife Fund, the leading organisation in wildlife conservation and endangered species, and it included Slovenian and Croatian institutes, faculties, parks and municipalities.
"Although the project is concluding, our efforts will continue," said Pivka Mayor Robert Smrdelj at today's closing conference, pointing to Center Dina, which is to attract school groups and families in particular.
According to the head of the centre, Dragica Jaksetič, visitors will need to be active. "While the museum will offer interactive content, visitors will need to do research themselves, and collect information, so the most curious ones could stay at the centre for a few hours," she said.
The cross-border project has improved the management of large carnivore population through inter-institutional cooperation, exchange of research information on the wolf and lynx populations, through analysis of habitats and joint evaluation of the role of large carnivores in the ecosystem.
As part of the project, several measures have been taken to improve the coexistence of man and large carnivores. A farm of best practices was set up, electric fences erected and shepherd dogs introduced.
Active signalisation has been set up along roads and shelters opened for orphan lynx cubs. Bear-resistant garbage cans were introduced and instructions presented for visitors of bear-populated areas.
The value of the project that covered the Nature 2000 areas of Javorniki-Snežnik and the Notranjska triangle in Slovenia as well as parts of Gorski Kotar and northern Lika in Croatia is EUR 2.3 million.
The centre can be found in Krpanov dom Pivka, Prečna ulica 1 Pivka
STA, 2 August 2021 - A total of 31 people tested positive for coronavirus on Sunday, the fifth straight day that the daily case count was up compared with the same day a week ago.
Data released by the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) show that 647 PCR tests were conducted yesterday, for a test positivity rate of 4.8%, in addition to 8,713 rapid antigen tests.
The 7-day average of new cases rose by one to 87 and the cumulative 14-day incidence per 100,000 residents by as much to 51.
NIJZ estimates there are now 1,103 active cases in the country, out of over 259,300 confirmed since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.
The Jožef Stefan Institute noted in a press release that the scope of the Covid-19 epidemic in Slovenia was increasing, although the summer season, which acts as partial lockdown of the country, is at its peak.
The local basic reproduction number is approximately 1.05, while the estimated effective reproduction number, which takes into account the imported number of infections, is approximately 1.25.
The epidemic is in decline when this number is below 1, the country's main research institute noted, adding that the current estimated daily number of imported infections is 15.
Get the latest COVID data for Slovenia
STA, 2 August 2021 - The 30th TrNOVfest festival, the successor to the Trnfest summer festival in Ljubljana's Trnovo borough, is getting under way tonight, to feature concerts, cabaret evenings and other artistic performances throughout August.
The opening concert on Monday evening will feature Black Ivy, a heavy metal band from Ilirska Bistrica. They have been active since 2019 and already released an EP, entitled Trapped In Delirium.
On Wednesday, the quartet Lilith Cage will present their album Shadows, offering an excursion into psychedelic shoe-gaze and post-punk, according to the festival's website.
The following festival evenings will feature hard rock band Hogminister, the band Eyecontact from Lendava, the band Before Time with a touch of psychedelia and contemporary indie rock, and the pop-funk-rock fusion quartet KiNG FOO.
The Celje rock trio Tidal Waves and the band Seven Days In May will also perform, while numerous evenings of dance, burlesque and cabaret will be conjured up by Glam Squad Burlesque.
On Friday, 13 August, the courtyard and the hall of the venue in Trnovo will be taken over by the event Friday the 13th - Metal Edition. The festival will come to an end on the last day of August with a performance by the Balkan folk jazz band Gugutke.
The festival is organised by the France Prešeren Centre of Slavic Cultures (KUD CSK FP).
STA, 30 July 2021 - The National Institute for Public Health (NIJZ) has announced that a new anonymous mobile app for checking the validity of EU digital Covid certificates is available to event organisers and service provider as of Friday.
The app is intended for organisers of cultural and sport events and public rallies, as well as providers of hospitality services and accommodation, who in line with the government decrees need to check Covid certificates of attendees and guests.
It scans QR codes on EU digital Covid certificates and checks whether the person has been tested for, recovered from or vaccinated against Covid-19 without getting access to personal or health information of the person.
The app for mobile devices, available on the e-health zVem portal, checks whether the issuer of the certificate is valid and placed on the list of valid issuers and whether the content of the certificate is valid in line with the relevant rules in Slovenia.
STA, 28 July 2021 - After last year's hybrid edition, this year's Ljubljana Jazz Festival will take place live from 28 to 31 July. Most of the concerts will take place in the Park of the Council of Europe adjacent to the Cankarjev Dom. The focus will be on Slovenian performers, but the line-up includes several jazz greats.
The festival programme was drawn up by Bogdan Benigar, the head of the Jazz and World Music Programme at Cankarjev Dom, and Edin Zubčević from Jazz Fest Sarajevo.
Benigar highlighted a performance by the Avishai Cohen trio on 29 July, which had its first and only performance in Slovenia twenty years ago. This time, the musician will also present his latest unreleased compositions.
The trio Simulacrum will perform on 29 July and the closing concert of the festival on 31 July will feature the improvisers' group Arkos, formed by Slovenian jazz percussionist Zlatko Kaučič and the Italian flautist Massimo de Mattia.
In the Council of Europe Park, the musicians will perform on two stages, one of which will be dedicated to up-and-coming Slovenian musicians who are working either in Slovenia or abroad.
Among the performers on the main stage, Benigar highlighted Mirna Bogdanović, who will perform on 30 July. She will be accompanied by a team of musicians from Berlin.
The opening night of the festival will feature concerts by cellist Lakiko - a project by the artist Lana Kostić, and Teo Collori & Momento Cigano, a band dedicated to a unique vision of gypsy swing which also performed at last year's festival.
Learn more at the official website
STA, 27 July 2021 - While the number of white stork pairs has been constant or increasing throughout Slovenia in recent years, it has been steadily decreasing in the north-eastern region of Prekmurje, which is the typical stork habitat in Slovenia.
Around 200 pairs nested in Slovenia in 1999, while last year there were 259, said Damijan Denac, the director of the Bird Watching and Bird Study Society of Slovenia.
The society, which has been monitoring the number of white stork pairs in the country since 1999, notes that this species has started to colonise areas where it had not traditionally nested before.
Denac explained that the stork population has increased in the area between Grosuplje and Novo Mesto, where no storks nested in 1999, while there are about 20 pairs today, as well as in Bela Krajina, the Ljubljana Marshes and the plains around Krško.
Storks also nest in other locations. "It is important to note, however, that the white stork is slowly but steadily disappearing from its traditional breeding area, Prekmurje," Denac said.
He believes that the reasons lie in environmental changes, especially food sources. Stork feed on insects, small mammals and amphibians, which are most often found in meadows. However, as intensive farming in Prekmurje has left very few meadows, there is not enough food left for storks.
"It is worrying that the consequences are being felt in a species that is not even a great ecological specialist, as the stork has a fairly wide range of prey. This means that the general state of biodiversity in the area is very poor."
The white stork is a long-lived species; it lives for up to 20 or 25 years and returns to the same nest every year. Unlike their parents, the young do not return to the nest where they were hatched, but settle elsewhere, including in other countries.
In the last few years, the society has been conducting research in which 10 young white storks have been fitted with tracking devices. They have found that the storks migrate quite actively until sexual maturity. For example, one of them migrated from Sudan to Turkey and back to Egypt.