From May 2018 to November 2018 Salviamo l’Orso and Dalla parte dell’Orso have been beneficiaries of €10,000.00. These funds were made available by the Abruzzo Region as a result of DGR 751/2017 for the L.R. June 9, 2016, n. 15 – interventions for the conservation of the Marsican brown bear (Ursus arctos marsicanus).
They have secured 29 agricultural and livestock farms from bear damage.
2. Intervention area
4 areas of intervention, involving 7 municipalities (Figure 1):
1. Marsica Fucense (municipalities of Luco dei Marsi and Trasacco),
2. Peligna Valley (Sulmona, Pettorano sul Gizio, Introdacqua),
3. Alto Sangro (Castel di Sangro),
4. Sagittario Valley (Cocullo).
The sub-region with the greatest number of requests was the Peligna Valley, 52% compared to the others (Figure 2).
There were two types of bear damage prevention devices used. In total, 23 electric fences and 5 bear-proof doors were installed.
The volunteers worked within and beyond the borders of the protected areas.
In some cases, the interventions were requested by the protected areas. For example, in Pettorano sul Gizio staff of the Monte Genzana Alto Gizio Regional Nature Reserve asked for interventions, and in Trasacco the staff of the Abruzzo, Lazio & Molise National Park also asked for damage prevention devices for a single beneficiary.
In other cases, the requests were received through regional offices or by word of mouth.
The damage prevention-devices, whether given out on loan or for free, have been prepared with the logos of the region and associations, in order to clearly show which organisations had donated the devices.
3. Properties made safe
The properties secured by bear-proof doors are all located in Peligna Valley (4 in Pettorano sul Gizio and 1 in Introdacqua), whereas in Marsica Fucense the electric fence was the most suitable device.
In the municipal area of Pettorano sul Gizio, only bear-proof doors were installed. This completed the safety work which was started in 2014 by the Monte Genzana Alto Gizio Regional Nature Reserve and by the associations Salviamo l’Orso, Dalla parte dell’ORSO and Rewilding Apennines for the “Bear Smart Community Genzana” project.
The interventions were carried out in response todamagerelated to the presence of bears F99 (Peppina) and M19 (Mario).
An electric fence was installed in the area of Cocullo due to a young bear frequenting the area of the Gole del Sagittario Nature Reserve. This bear however did not cause damage to any rural farms.
The propertiesmade safe can be considered small-medium sized, with perimeterfences between 50m and 450m on average. In most cases, a fully equippedelectric fence was needed. Only 3 beneficiaries receivedspecific components in orderto complete the fence they had already set up by themselves.
4. Marsican brown bear monitoring network in Abruzzo and Molise
The operators of Salviamo l’Orso (Dr. Mario Cipollone and Dr. Simone Giovacchini) for the Marsican brown Bear monitoring network in Abruzzo &Molise, submitted to the regional focal point (Dr. Sefora Inzaghi) every sign of the presence of bear they found during the damage prevention activity, such as hair samples for the genetic analysis. These actions, therefore, contributed positively to monitoring of the bear outside the protected areas.
5. Type of protected property
The properties protected from the bear raids can be divided up into the following types (Figure 3):
– vegetable garden and orchard;
– barnyard animal farms;
– sheep and goat farms;
– exhibition animal farms;
– pig farms.
Most rural farms had multiple types of assets to protect. For example, vegetable gardens, orchards, chicken coops and stables can be fenced together where possible. In one case we protected a breeding of Brahma chickens for exhibition purpose.
6. Effectiveness of assistance
The equipment thatwas used was installed using the basic technical references set out in Table 2 of the 2017 annual intervention program of DGR 751/2017, with reference to L.R. 9 June 2016, n. 15. In 10 out of 29 cases (34.5%) the rural activities were damagedby the bear before the interventions. No damage events occurred after the installation of preventive devices, thus proving their effectiveness. Bears however continued to frequent the areas of intervention from time to time, as evidenced by the raidsof unprotected structures, sightings and signs of presence.
The total costs incurred for protective devices, including the incursions caused by Peppina the bear and her three cubs in the Peligna Valley and Mario the bear in the Marsica Fucense, amounted to €18,049.05. This included €10.000,00 from Abruzzo region and €8,049.05 (80% more than the available budget) from resources of Salviamo l’Orso association, specifically from “A passage for the Bear” project, sponsored by AISPA.
The actions of the associations wereto preventpotential larger scale damage from the bear and claims for compensation from farmers to the Abruzzo Region in response to bear damage.
Safety interventions have reduced conflicts between local communities and the Marsican brown bear, demonstrating the effectiveness of prevention measures as “best practice” to encourage the coexistence of the bear and humans.
The associations showed remarkable efficiency, responding to requests for preventive measures within a few days. However, the budget that was made available by the Abruzzo Region was insufficient and extra funds were needed from Salviamo l’Orso, mainly from “A passage for the Bear” project, sponsored by AISPA.
In anticipation of the much-desired expansion of the Marsican brown bear population into a larger area, there is a need to intensify interventions in the territories already frequented by the species. As the population increases, so does the possibility that “problematic” behaviour arises in young individuals. We definitely hope for an increase of the annual economic allocation for the implementation of LR 15.