Romania is well known for its large bear population. In one of the suburbs of the city of Brasov - a city nestling on the edges of the Carpathian mountains - some bears have learnt to exploit human food sources, including garbage. These bears have become something of a local attraction with both tourists and locals watching them, and even hand feeding them. This phenomena has been going on for over a decade - with a remarkable absence of conflict. On one hand it provides an example of coexistence potential. However, the absence of conflict has been a matter of luck. These circumstances with bears moving among apartment blocks and associating people with food are a recipe for disaster - are regarded as an indication of poor bear conservation practices. In October 2004 two people were killed by bears in the vicinity. Although the circumstances are not clear - rabies may have been involved - such events remind us that of the potentially serious consequences of not taking bears seriously.
Text & Photo: John Linnell