11/09/11 Bears for a Bear

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Animal Friends and Medvescak ice hockey players voice an appeal to save the bear from Slunj

- "A minister should not be a killer," Animal Friends tells Bozidar Pankretic

After finding out that Bozidar Pankretic, Minister of Regional Development, Forestry and Water Management, has authorized the killing of a bear who was "scaring" soldiers and employees of the Ministry of Defence at the military training ground "Eugen Kvaternik" near Slunj, Animal Friends, with the support of the ice hockey club Medvescak from Zagreb, have directed a demand to Minister Pankretic to reexamine his decision and cancel the order to kill the bear.

Animal Friends have complimented the efforts of soldiers who tried to make the bear leave by scaring him and taking food outside of the area where they live and work. Despite the fact that the bear continued to go near the training ground and the soldiers, Animal Friends, joined by the "Zagreb bears," think that a peaceful solution for this problem should be insisted on, without spilling blood.

The bear did not attack or endanger employyes at the military training ground, so the decision to kill him on the assumption that he might attack is unsuitable for the ethical principles of the 21st century and the fact that it is an endangered species which should be protected and not killed. In this case it is necessary to consult with with experts on the behavior of bears, who could give instructions on the method of discourage the bear from coming to the military training ground. Relocating the bear to another location, near the places he knows, would surely be a more adequate and humane solution than killing him. It should be stressed that this decision came at a time when the bear was preparing for hibernation and would not be coming to the military training ground during the winter months.

Because of the decision to kill the bear, Animal Friends has received many negative comments from citizens. Such a decision is not only harmful for the bear, but also for the reputation of the Ministry and Minister Pankretic himself, considering that the Croatian public sees the Ministry as an institution incapable of solving the problem of the bear who has not attacked or injured anyone, but comes to his natural area, which people have taken away by building infrastructures. Animal Friends and ice hockey club Medvescak also believe that it is in Minister Pankretic's interest to be seen by the public as the saviour of the bear, and not to have the title of a killer of an endangered animal.

Since there are about 1,000 brown bears in Croatia and they are an endangered species (Nature Protection Law; Official Gazette 70/05; 139/08, Rulebook for Declaring Endangered Species of Wild Animals Official Gazette 07/06; 99/09, the Hunting Act Official Gazette 140/05; y75/09, Directive on habitats: Appendix II, Bern Convention: Appendix II, CITES: Appendix II), the killing of any bear should not be approached lightly.

After launching a joint campaign to protect animals killed and used for fur under the motto "Real Bears Don't Wear Somebody Elses Fur," this is the second public action of Animal Friends and ice hockey club Medvescak with the aim to stop violence toward animals and with the purpose of saving them.

Kristina Vilk, Miss Sport Croatia, the cover face of the current Animal Friends campaign "Hunt Results, Not Animals," joined the appeal to save the bear.

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