LIFE DINALP BEAR project
Location:Dinaric Mountains and the Alps (Croatia, Slovenia, Italy, Austria)
Type of protection:Several national and nature parks and numerous Natura 2000 sites
The project focuses on the population level management and conservation of brown bears in the northern Dinaric Mountains and the Alps. It will establish population-level conservation, management and monitoring of brown bears across four countries. The variety of activities include non-lethal solutions to reduce human-bear conflicts, development of local-based bear ecotourism and promotion of natural expansion of bears into the Alps.
- Habitat types: Dinaric mountain chain with karst landscape and the Alpine mountain range with various habitat and vegetation types.
- Keystone species present: Brown bear, grey wolf, Griffon vulture
- Fauna species reintroduced: Eurasian lynx (not within this project)
- Description: The project strives to pave the way for transition from local-scale to population-level conservation, management and monitoring of brown bears across four countries. We are using non-lethal science-based solutions to reduce human-bear conflicts, promoting bears as an eco-tourist attraction and using targeted educational activities to promote human-bear co-existence and natural expansion of the brown bear from Dinaric Mountains into the Alps.
- Aim: Population-level bear management and monitoring; Reduced human-bear conflicts; Decreased bear traffic mortality; Establishment of carcass feeding sites; Development of bear eco-tourism and local bear-friendly products; Improve attitude of local inhabitants towards bears; Ensure habitat connectivity
- Vision: Our vision is the population-level conservation, management and monitoring of bears. By using science-based approaches to reduce human-bear conflicts we believe publicly-supported coexistence with bears is possible, as well as the natural expansion of brown bear population into the Alps.
- Accomplished in 10 years from now: Stabile bear numbers in the Dinaric Mts. and increased population size and distribution in the Alps; Established population-level bear management and monitoring over four countries; Reduced human-bear conflict rate; Well-developed bear eco-tourism; Local public support for bear conservation
- Uniqueness: This is one of the first efforts in Europe to develop a transboundary management of a large carnivore, an idea endorsed and promoted by the European Commission, but rarely done in practice.
- Results so far: Completed non-invasive genetic sample collection across four countries; Analyses of human-bear conflicts and bear traffic mortality; Development and deployment of bear-proof garbage containers, compost bins and livestock protection electric fences; Establishment of bear emergency intervention groups; Establishment of bear feeding sites with wild ungulate carcasses; Development of a “bear-friendly” brand for sustainable local products; Workshops on developing bear eco-tourism for local hunting and tourism organizations; Published guidelines for preventing human-bear conflicts, communicating with stakeholders and promoting bear eco-tourism.
- Flagship species: Bear
- Other characteristics: Community involved, Eco tourism, Education, Research, Sale of sustainable products
- Inspirational value: The brown bear is one of the potentially most in conflict living and feared animals in Europe. However, coexistence of one of the largest bear populations on the continent with people in a densely populated region of Central Europe highlights the possibility that with careful management and implementation of effective measures that keep conflict rate low there can be space in Europe for almost any native wildlife species.
- Experience you would like to share: Experiences with establishing population-level management and monitoring of large carnivores and promoting their coexistence with people in human-dominated landscapes. Wildlife management and conservation based on science.
- Experience you would like to gain: Pros and cons of various management measures to prevent human-carnivore conflicts. Experiences from reintroducing carnivores and scavengers. Operationalizing wildlife-based eco-tourism in Europe.