Kastoria: Bears roam the villages – they come because the cherries are ripe, residents say

Bears are now increasingly appearing in rural Kastoria and wider western Macedonia as they roam the countryside, local residents say.

The relationship of the villager with large carnivorous animals such as bears, wolves, lynxes and jackals has never been harmonious, it has always hidden the element of competition.

Specialist scientists admit that the presence of these species in a certain area somehow “confirms” that the forest, mountain and rural ecosystems are in relatively good condition. But what happens when somehow the balance is disturbed and animals like bears are found even in cities?

The distribution of many photos and videos of bears and their cubs in the towns of Korisos and Dispilio in Kestoria on social networks prompted the local authorities to take action. The most impressive is the presence of a bear with 4 cubs in the Korisos area. They all eat cherries in a garden located inside the settlement.

In another case, in the town of Korisos in Kastoria, a bear roams the village, very close to the school, where, as residents say, they come to feed now that the cherries are ripe.

Skylakakis was informed about the bears

Dimitris Savvopoulos, the deputy governor of Kastoria, was alarmed by repeated sightings of bears in residential areas, sent an urgent letter to the Minister of Environmental Protection Todoros Skylakakis, and asked for help through the agencies that supervise the services of the ministry. above events. As he said during his conversation with APE BEE, “We have informed the minister about the situation we are facing, we have stated that there is a danger to the lives of the residents when such large animals roam in residential areas and we have asked for action to be taken in this regard. Mr. Savvopoulos argued that the state should initiate a program to “manage the bear population. The numbers we have show that they have increased significantly.” in order not to fall into situations” put the issue of sterilization of animals on the discussion table.

What locals say about bears

Polykarpi, Kastoria, the bear repeatedly destroyed corn, his field, the owner of the family farming business “Moschos farm”, Mr. Dimitris Moschos, came out APE-MPE worried about the enthusiastic presence of bears in the lakeside villages of Kastoria. 7 hectares of land that he intended for fodder for his cattle and sheep. “The bear comes down to the lake to look for food, and the cornfield is a food source, especially during the season when cherries, cranberries and wild berries are scarce. Dimitris Moschos is 60 years old, from a farming family, and as APE reports to BEE, the bear population that roams the plains where his village is located has nothing to do with the past. “We are small children and we knew that at such a time one or two bears and a dozen cubs were walking in our area. Today the picture is completely different. There are many animals, and the mother bear has three or four cubs, which has never happened before.”

The above fact is confirmed by Mr. Nikos Panagiotopoulos of Kastoria Environmental Protection Society, who notes that “in recent years, we see more mother bears with three or four cubs” regarding the population and bear sightings. in the villages, he notes from the surveillance cameras placed both around and outside the lake in different parts of the Kastoria plain that “many female animals walk with their cubs in residential areas, while some males also move alone. in search of women”. He explained that females move closer and closer to populated areas in an attempt to protect their young from larger males.

The number of Gonur month reached 750 individuals

The environmental organization “Kallisto” has dedicated its activities in recent years to the protection of wildlife and the unique ecosystems of Greece. It develops and implements EU programs for wildlife conservation, coexistence with humans, and monitors all the changes that have taken place in mountain villages over the past 30 years. Giorgos Mertzanis, the organization’s scientific manager and wildlife expert, said in reference to the bear that the Immediate Response Team, created to manage wildlife crises in residential areas, “is monitoring the bear in the area” Dispilio of Kastoria and will intervene if necessary, he said. noted that “a few days ago, the operation to remove the bear with its cubs has been completed in Florina. A properly equipped emergency response team has removed the animal from the settlement and returned it to the mountain ecosystems. Based on their experience, the bear population has increased Mr. Mertzanis, who works with the bear population in Greece, agrees that today “we have 750 individuals”, while pointing to its appearance in the western areas as an encouraging sign of the recovery of the bear population Outside Macedonia, for example, on Mount Olympus, Kissavos, Agrafa and Thesprotia.

At the same time, he advised to be calm about the reactions. He recalled that there was an Emergency Response Team with the Forest Service, the Fire Department, the Police, two environmental organizations and a hunting club to take the initiative, and he asked residents “not to approach the animal, especially if it turns out that there is an animal in it. Her behavior can be unpredictable because her cubs are with her. He explained that “the animal code mentions avoiding man because he considers him stronger, although there may be exceptions depending on the conditions prevailing in the field each time.” He also added that “people should not be misled by the animal’s possible “friendly” behavior and should not forget that a bear cannot behave like a pet.” Mr. Mertzanis took a negative view of the issue of sterilization raised by the deputy governor of Kastoria, stressing to the APE-MPE that “this proposal has been heard and rejected in the past in the current discussions”. He reminded that the European Directive No. 9243, which Greece has included in its legislation, keeps bears and wolves under special protection status.

Commenting on the rich reproduction of animals observed in recent years, Mr. Mertazanis attributed it to the “abundance of food supply” that the bear found in mountainous areas, as well as in fields with corn without much effort. He advised local government officials to “clean up all the garbage dumps where the people of the highlands tend to throw food scraps” because these places act as an attraction to attract the bear.

Alexandros Karamanlidis, the person in charge of Arcturus Speaking to APE BEE, he described the phenomenon of bears descending “as expected for the season” on settlements where they know they will find a variety of foods such as cherries and sorghum, which are abundant throughout the villages of Western Macedonia. He described the phenomenon as “transient” because the wild animals will then move to higher elevations where their habitats are. Mr. Karamanlidis explained that “all over the world, wild animals are moving closer and closer to human habitations,” stressing that “this is not just a Greek phenomenon.” He recalled the existence of the Rapid Response Team, which was established with KYA ​​in 2014 to manage such issues, and with regard to repeated bear incidents in Kastoria’s residential areas, he noted that Arktouros “cannot be deployed” for reasons related to its funding. Management of incidents outside the Florina geographical area”.

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