Friday, April 30, 2010

Killer bear scare in the Tatras

From: The News
National park rangers are hunting an aggressive brown bear, roaming the Polish-Slovak border, after it attacked two men and a horse.

The Slovak authorities issued an order to shoot the animal. Rangers from Poland’s Tatra National Park don’t want to resort to such a drastic move. They will try to trap the unruly bear, instead.

“When it enters the trap-cage we have prepared, we will put it to sleep for a while, carry out genetic tests, determine its sex, age and weight, fit it with a radio collar, wake it up and release it,” says Pawel Skawinski, director of the Tatra National Park.

Thanks to the radio collar, the rangers will know the exact whereabouts of the bear at any time and will close certain parts of the park for the protection of tourists. In extreme situations, they will deter the animal with rubber bullets.

Director Skawinski says the bear is aggressive either because it is wounded, was fed by people and is no longer afraid of humans or simply that it has the nature of a killer, but this happens very rarely.

The “killer bear”, as local people have dubbed it, first attacked on April 22, injuring a Slovak lumberjack. Another Slovak man suffered a serious attack five days later and is fighting for life in hospital in Slovakia. Then, the bear crossed the border and attacked a cart horse standing in harness. It stood in front of the horse on its hind legs, and relented only when lumberjacks scared it with their saws.

Since the bear has no radio collar, its movements cannot be traced. Tourists entering the Tatra National Park are warned against a possible attack.