Facts & Figures | WWF

Facts & Figures

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Eurasian brown bear (Ursus arctos) Kuhmo, Finland, July 2008
© Wild Wonders of Europe /Staffan Widstrand / WWF

Brown bears: who are they?

Few animals have captured human’s imagination like brown bears. They can stand on two legs, walk on the soles of their feet and grasp objects between their front legs and often eat what we eat.

Why do they matter?

Over a period of 100 years, brown bears had almost disappeared from the Alpine region. They returned thanks to resettlement projects in Italy, Austria and France (see "Supported bear initiatives" below).

They are considered a high priority in conservation as they play key roles as predators keeping other animals' populations under control.
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Bears in Europe
© WWF

The main threats

Habitat loss
  • Human expansion into the bear's natural habitat, has created tension between bears and people.
  • Logging, mining, road construction, and other development projects
  • Human attempts to prevent brown bears’ interference with things like livestock, crops, water supplies, and garbage bins impact the existence of the bear in many parts of Europe.

Hunting
  • Brown bears are pursued due to their size, valuable furs and meat.

How can we protect the bear against poaching?

  • Enforce the laws - poaching of bears and other large carnivores should be considered a serious wildlife crime.
  • Implement proper preventive measures to reduce the human-bear conflicts, which may lead to poaching.
  • Tighten custom controls for animal furs and stop the illegal export of trophies.
  • Ensure a better guarding of the hunting units and forests where the brown bear lives or is moving for dispersion (or use the ecological corridor areas for other reasons, e.g. massive disturbances).
  • Improve bear population level management between countries and adopt joint measures to fight against poaching.
  • Improve communication between authorities and other stakeholders in the region to better avoid and coordinate anti-poaching efforts.
  • Develop a tool/ instrument/ app for the general public to report the presence of traps or even potential poaching cases.
  • Appropriately tackle the bear-human conflict issue – improve the implementation of prevention measures, together with awareness-raising campaigns amongst locals and tourists, avoiding the feeding of bears by hunters close to villages, improving the waste management system; compensation measures, can only work if these other measures are in place, as otherwise they only address effects, not the cause.

What WWF is doing to protect the bear

What to do if you meet a bear?

Tip #1: Don't scare him off or take photos



Tip #2: Don't scream, throw stones or chase the bear



Tip #3: Stay calm and walk backwards