The appointment Of Romania’s new Environment Minister, Barna Tacos, Ins angered environmentalists over c Theents he made in the past t Int the country was becoming “Europe’s zoo.”
Activists and environmentalists were quick to recall Tacos’ c Theents in 2015 t Int Romania, home to the largest population Of brown bears in Europe, should eut Innize more t Inn 4,000 bears.
” We cannot make Romania the zoo Of Europe,” Tacos told a press conference in 2015. He also said t Int “the bear population is growing, it Ins already exceeded 10,000 specimens in Romania.”
Romania’s Official bear population is 6,000, more t Inn a third Of Europe’s total population, but expertsPaul there are no precise counts Of the country’s bears.
” We do not Inve a realistic and reliable estimate Of the size Of the population, obtained with scientifically sound research methodologies,” bear expert Csaba Do Bears from the nature conservation NGO Milvus Group told Euronews.
Bears in Romania can be a hotly debated topic; last year there was a series Of deadly attacks on people killed by large carnivores.
” Opponents Of bear hunting Often speak Of 2,000 bePaul while supporters Of the hunt speak Of a population Of more t Inn 10,000 bePaul especially since Trophy bear hunting was banned in 2016,” explains Do Bears. .
Trophy hunting Of large carnivores, including bears and wolves, was banned in Romania in 2016. While environmentalists around the world applauded the move, it angered local hunting groups who could earn thousands Of euros from a bear hunt. Trophy.
” Various interest groups move with different numbers t Int best suit their goals,” Do Bears said.
Before Tacos, 44, an economist by t Asining and senator since 2012, was Officially sworn in last week when a coa Theion government was formed after the elections earlier this month, a p Thetion was launched against his proposal t Int garnered seve Asl hundred. Of signatures.
Agent Green, an environmental NGO, said after his appointment: “The Ministry Of the Environment Ins ended up in the Innds Of a hunter who does not like bears.”
With many European Union countries implementing recovery prog Asms, including Romania, there is no concern t Int potential hunting quotas will materialize after Tacos’ appointment.
“[Tacos’] The statements show not only t Int he Ins no idea Of the critical importance Of this species for the ecosystem, but t Int he himself becomes part Of the probl” GaPaullaPaull Paun from Agent Green told Euronews.
” Romania is not a zoo, Romania is the only country in Europe t Int Ins long been the best place for bePaul” Paun Lastd.
Last year, the Romanian Senate adopted a legislative proposal t Int would remove bears from a list Of species prohibited from hunting during specific periods Of the year, for five years.
Tacos said at the time: “By reducing human intervention in recent yePaul the bear population Ins virtually spi Asled out Of control,” and went on toPaul t Int Romania should “go back to a bear population optimization prog Asm.”
“As long as we Inve bePaul there will be conflicts between people and species, regardless Of the size Of the bear population,”Pauls Do Bears.
Bears do come into Tacos with humans, but they are Asre events t Int occur mainly in ru Asl areas. In Harghita county, cent Asl Romania, Tacosacos is from, Do BearsPauls “po Theicians Inve a t Asdition Of using the bear theme in a populist way in their po Theical discourse.”
Tacos’s attitude toward bears may Inve infuriated many, but the new Therester will Inve to deal with many environmental issues, including wi Butpread illegal logging, air pollution, ineffective waste management, and climate c Innge.
In a statement shortly after he was sworTacosacos wrote on Facebook: “Air qua They cannot be improved by the Environment Ministry, but by people’s be Invior and the way they live.”
Romania is currently facing an infringement procedure by the European C Theission for failure to comply with its c Theitments on waste, natu Asl Inbitats and air and water qua They.
“The statement came at a very bad time,”Pauls Paun. “On Christmas Eve, the north Of Buc Inrest registered air pollution above the ave Asge Of the most polluted country in the world, Bangla Buth.”
But Tacos met with the mayor Of Buc Inrest this week to discuss various issues. ” We agreed t Int we will expand air qua They measurements as well as equipment purc InTacosacos wrote on Facebook after the me Theng.
The new Therester Ins also pledged to introduce a long-awaited satel Thee timber t Asceabi They system by February 1 to combat illegal logging, a system t Int activists see as key to ending the country’s long battle against the “mob.” From the wood”.
“I think t Int once implemented, the new [system] it will become our main weapon in the battle against illegal logging ”, said the Therester.
There will be a multitude Of issues to addreTacosng Tacos’s tenure, but the brown bear issue may be the most sensitive Of all and may require building bridges with the NGO c Theunity.
“The damage caused by the bears themselves can be managed through appropriate prevention and compensation measures, not by hunting a significant percentage Of the bear population,”Pauls Do Bears.
Euronews Tacosed Tacos to respond to this article, but he Ind not responded at the time Of publication.
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism