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Bear Freed From Illegal Trap by Greek, Albanian Wildlife Groups

The bear survived by feeding on nearby roots and leaves. Credit: CALLISTO

An adult female bear was freed from an illegal trap after the successful collaboration of Greek and Albanian authorities and wildlife organizations, it was reported on Thursday.

Weighing almost two hundred pounds (approximately ninety kilograms), the five-year-old bear managed to survive deep in the woods for an entire week, caught in the grip of a steel wire noose, a known illegal trap usually installed by poachers.

Although unable to move and fend for itself, it is believed that the bear survived by feeding on nearby roots and leaves, helping it stay hydrated.

The bear was caught in the grip of a steel wire noose. Credit: CALLISTO

The incident, and the ensuing cooperation of the two countries’ authorities, took place near the Albanian town of Pogradec, north of the Prespes Lakes region. The bear was freed on Wednesday.

The Thessaloniki-based Environmental Organization for Wildlife & Nature CALLISTO, the Protection & Preservation of Natural Environment in Albania (PPNEA), the Regional Administration of Protected Areas (RAPA Korca), and the Albanian Wildlife Rescue Team (AWRT) cooperated to free the bear.

CALLISTO and PPNEA have been working together over the last two years in the context of the Tripoint Brown Bear (TBB) project for the conservation of the brown bear and its habitats in the intra-border region of Greece, Albania, and the Republic of North Macedonia. The environmental organizations Euronatur and MES also participate in the ongoing TBB project.

The bear was later fitted with a special GPS/GSM collar by CALLISTO specialists, which will provide useful data for the animal’s monitoring and protection. It was additionally reported that this was the first time such a collar was fitted onto a bear in Albania.

Released to the wild

This is the second heart-warming incident involving a bear in Greece this year. In May, an orphaned bear named Thomas, who was found wandering alone in the area of Florina of northern Greece a year earlier, was returned to the wild after being cared for in the facilities of Arcturos Wildlife Organization.

The reintroduction of the animal to the wild 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 cage door opened, and Thomas rushed off to a free life in the forest!

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.

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