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Living with the bear

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/ the Marsican brown bear / living with the bear.

The occasional encounter with wildlife is always an exciting experience that seems to awaken in us ancestral memories, sedimented in the soul since the dawn of human history. Encountering bears in the mountains of the central Apennines, or coming across signs of their presence, is a special event to be prepared for.

Knowledge of simple rules of behavior is essential to prevent a magical occasion from turning into a cause of stress and danger to the animal or its observer. Nature conservation is a moral obligation that we cannot and should not shirk. What are the root reasons for this obligation? These are ecocentric (intrinsic value of species) and anthropocentric (utility value to humans) motivations, but the former must weigh overwhelmingly over the latter.

Indirect signs of presence

Bears often leave signs of their passage. A keen eye, walking in the mountains, may notice droppings, tufts of fur, footprints in mud or snow, claw marks on logs.

Don’t follow the footsteps, but take pictures. If you happen to encounter footprints on dirt or snow, avoid following them because you might “poach” the animal. Instead, it is important, whenever possible, to take photographs of the track and individual footprints, using references that make it easier to understand the size of the footprint and the distance between footprints (e.g., a meter or an object whose dimensions are known).

Droppings can also be photographed, but never removed from their location. Also, it is important not to touch them because they may contain spores or bacteria that are harmful to our bodies. Looking at barbed wire fences, logs and shrubs you might find tufts of fur. Do not touch them but report them to institutional contacts or Save the Bear, we will forward them to the appropriate agencies.

Direct sightings

In the case of a direct encounter with one or more bears, it is good to maintain an attitude of respect and demeanor, avoiding agitation and cackling. The Marsican bear, like most wild animals, is afraid of humans and tends to run away. Always leaving an escape route and keeping your distance are the most effective ways to avoid unpleasant accidents.

If you are at a distance greater than 200 meters
And the bear did not notice our presence

– Enjoy the observation by remaining still and silent.
– If he notices you (he looks around, sniffs, stands up on his hind legs), don’t let him run away, you take a step back.

If you are within 200 meters of the bear, move away!

If the bear did not notice you, calmly and discreetly walk away, trying not to be noticed.

If the bear notices you, it may stand up on its hind legs to get a better look and sniff in our direction (it’s an attitude of curiosity!) and then move away.

If the bear notices you and does not move away or makes a false attack (approaches huffing and running), back away without running and without turning your back on him, speak in a calm voice, give him space and try to distract him by moving your backpack to the side or by throwing, again from the side, pebbles.

In the rare case that none of this works, curl up in the fetal position and wait for the bear to lose interest.

If you encounter a bear at very close range,
try to keep calm

Make yourself known, moving your arms slowly. Start talking in a calm voice. If you have a backpack or something similar on hand, place it on the ground to deflect attention and walk away without jerks or quick movements.

You can avoid close encounters with the bear by being conspicuous while walking, stepping on leaves and branches, and speaking in a calm voice and normal tone.

Never get closer than 50 meters

In case of an encounter within urban centers, move away and always leave an escape route for the animal. Close encounters cause great stress in bears who, in their desperate search for an escape route, may pounce on those present, endangering people and animals.
In case of injured or distressed bears call the appropriate authorities.

If you come across puppies, move away immediately and report their presence to the appropriate agencies.
Approaching the pups could trigger a defensive reaction from the mother. Also move away from bears feeding on a carcass.

If you encounter bear along a driveway, stop your car and dim your headlights

Letting the animal walk away spontaneously and quietly. Do not chase the animal with your car, lest we push it into a dangerous ride, for it, for us, and for other motorists who may be coming from the oncoming lane.
Keep your speed moderate (maximum 50 km per hour), because animals may suddenly leap onto the roadway.

Save the Bear
Association for the Conservation of the Marsican Brown Bear ONLUS
Olive Park Street, 11
65015 Montesilvano (PE)

VAT NUMBER: 02189990688
CF: 91117950682
MAIL: info@salviamolorso.it
PEC: ass.salviamolorso@pec.it

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