In bear country Romania, cohabitation grows strenuous | 6/7/2018 | Staff
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When Maria Lacatus' son opened the barn door, it was already too late. "The bear had one of the pigs in its claws," the sobbing 86-year-old says.

After losing a horse too a few days later, Lacatus now agrees with many of her neighbours in the northern Romanian village of Cusma that hunting the protected species is the only answer.

Bear - Opening - Planks - Lacatus - Vision

The bear had fled through an opening it had made in some wooden planks, Lacatus says, unable to shake the vision of the animal she "almost bumped into".

She lives with her son, daughter-in-law—both take whatever daily work they can find—and their seven children in a house protected by a wooden fence opening onto a muddy yard.

Pigs - Source - Income

The pigs are a vital source of income.

Romania has Europe's highest number of brown bears which have always been a common sight in Cusma, population about 600 and lying eight hours by road from the capital Bucharest.

Residents - Bears - Venture - Farms - Cows

But residents say that the bears didn't use to venture into farms to take animals—around 15 cows and pigs have been killed by bears in the last two years, says deputy mayor Florin Griga.

In other parts of the country, humans have been attacked.

October - Bear - Mushrooms - Attack - Fishing

In October alone, a bear killed a 47-year-old who was picking mushrooms and a 61-year-old died due to an attack while fishing.

Thirty-two people were attacked, two of them fatally, in 2017 and 2018, according to government data.

Authorities - Communities - Fences - Use - Dogs

Authorities have suggested that communities erect electric fences and use specialised dogs to keep bears away.

But with very few exceptions, such as the central town of Baile Tusnad, the measures have not been carried out.

Response - Calls - Areas - Senators - September

In response to calls from some in rural areas, senators voted in September to allow brown bears to be hunted over the next five years, citing a problem of overpopulation.

The controversial bill, which still needs approval by deputies, has...
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