The country has been managing its brown bears as game animals, meaning they can be hunted; but under EU legislation, bears are a protected species and can only be shot if they are deemed to be problem animals.
This might seem to be a positive outcome for the bears. However, it could lead to reduced tolerance for bears among local people, because the local economy will lose valuable revenue from hunting, according to a study by researchers from Imperial College London and Zagreb University.
They argue that a system involving hunting ensures local support for bears in Croatia, which is vital in ensuring the animals' long-term survival. It was a lack of local support for large carnivores, such as wolves and bears, that led to these animals disappearing from much of Europe in previous centuries.
Under the Croatian hunting system, 10 to 15 per cent of the total bear population can be killed each year, and individual hunting organisations receive the right to hunt a portion of this quota. These organisations sell the rights to shoot bears for trophies to hunters, which enables them to provide employment to local people, and to compensate farmers quickly for any bear damage. Under this system, the local economy has benefited and the bear population has remained stable.
In contrast, in neighbouring Slovenia, bears are protected under EU law. This means that local people gain little from their presence, and are less tolerant of them. Many bears are killed as problem animals, for damaging crops or endangering people and livestock. The researchers estimate that on average over the last five years, 20 per cent of Slovenia's bear population has been killed each year, compared with around 8 per cent of the bear population in Croatia.
At present, trophy hunting for bears is still permitted in Croatia, under derogation from EU law, but the researchers are keen to see a more long-term solution.
Professor E.J. Milner-Gulland from the Department of Life Sciences, who led the research, said: "Local hunting associations in Croatia currently have a positive relationship with the bears; the bear is accepted and valued by local communities. By contrast, many Slovenians have a negative attitude to bears, and we think this is because, unlike in Croatia, they see bears as nuisances rather than economically valuable and useful. If hunting was outlawed in Croatia, this would probably put a strain on the Croatians' relationships with bears and could result in increased conflict between people and bears."
According to Professor Milner-Gulland these issues suggest that there isn't a one-size-fits-all solution to conservation policy and the EU needs to devolve more conservation decisions to the regional or local levels, because policies need the consent of local people in order to be successful.
"There is strong evidence that Croatia's current system is beneficial for both local people and the bear population, and changing it could result in more tension between people and bears," said Professor Milner-Gulland. "We are not implying that trophy hunting is an appropriate management option for all brown bear populations. However, not every country is the same, and there needs to be regional variation in conservation policies so that people are able to manage their own populations of high priority species successfully."
Much of the research for this study was carried out by Emma Knott as part of her MSc in Conservation Science at Imperial. The academic paper is published in the European Journal of Wildlife Research.
Laura Gallagher | EurekAlert!
How does the loss of species alter ecosystems?
18.05.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Excess diesel emissions bring global health & environmental impacts
16.05.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
The world's highest gain high power laser amplifier - by many orders of magnitude - has been developed in research led at the University of Strathclyde.
The researchers demonstrated the feasibility of using plasma to amplify short laser pulses of picojoule-level energy up to 100 millijoules, which is a 'gain'...
Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
30.05.2017 | Life Sciences
30.05.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
29.05.2017 | Earth Sciences