A mother bear and her two cubs have been shot dead near Konitsa in Greece’s Epirus region.
The incident was reported to Arcturos, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of brown bears, on Sunday after the lifeless bodies were discovered alongside the road connecting the cities of Ioannina and Kozani.
“They shot the mother bear first, and then the two cubs, who were born earlier this year and were still nursing, as evidenced by the mother bear’s nipples,” explained a member of Arcturos, to the state-run Athens-Macedonian News Agency (AMNA).
Authorities are investigating the killings.
This is the second killing of bears in Greece in the last two months. In late September, a bear cub was shot dead by most probably a poacher in the region of Florina in northern Greece.
The cub was born last year and was still at an age where it has not been separated from its mother bear Arcturos said in a statement at the time. Next to the dead cub fresh traces of an adult animal were found, probably from the mother bear that was with him.
Arcturos is a nonprofit, non-governmental, environmental organization (NGO) founded in 1992, focusing on the protection of wildlife fauna and natural habitat, in Greece.
Among its other activities, it gives priority to scientific research and provides environmental education. It also raises public awareness on matters such as biodiversity and viability.
For example, in May 2023 it returned to the wild an orphaned bear named Thomas, who was found wandering alone in the area of Florina, northern Greece.
The reintroduction of the wild animal was carefully planned by volunteers and vets. After being sedated for the necessary veterinary tests, he was fitted with a transmitter collar and taken to a forest area of Mount Vitsi.
The bear population in Greece is over 450
Greece is currently home to an estimated population of 450 brown bears. The majority of these bears live in the mountainous regions of northern Greece, including the Pindos and Rhodope Mountains.
The bear population in Greece has faced numerous challenges in recent years, including habitat loss, poaching, and conflicts with humans.
However, the Greek government and several non-governmental organizations, including Arcturos, have implemented various conservation measures to protect the species and mitigate these challenges.
These include the designation of protected areas, such as the National Park of Pindos, and the installation of electric fences around beehives to reduce conflicts with local beekeepers.
In March 2023, a bear made headlines in Greece when she was spotted feasting on honey and destroying beehives. The mischievous bear is believed to have eaten 40kg (88 lbs) of honey!
The sizeable animal was unexpectedly recorded by automatic cameras that had been set up by members of the environmental group “Kallisto”. The group was alerted to the havoc caused by the creature in the broader region of Goumenissa by residents.
Experts believe that the bear population in the region has increased over the past decade or so. This is due to certain environmental factors such as an abundance of food.