Home > Turkey

A study documented 27 close encounters in 2003-2005, where harm to humans was reported in two cases harm to bears reported in six cases. More than 61% of the interviewees reported damage caused by bears to agricultural fields, beehives or livestock between 2003 and 2005. Villagers took precautions with differing levels of sophistication and effectiveness against damage caused by bears. Many locals used basic exclusion methods, like simple fences or metal sheets placed around tree trunks, but these were generally not very effective; 21% of the interviewees did not take any measures. Using current average values for damaged livestock and property, a minimum annual cost of about USD$20,000 is estimated for Yusufeli.

There is growing resentment among local villagers, who usually blame conservation authorities and may use illegal means to get rid of “problem bears”. Pressure from the hunting lobby to list the bear for trophy hunting, complicates the situation. Since the fundamental element for maintaining bears in any area is to control human-induced mortality, there is an urgent need to educate the rural public and introduce effective preventive measures to reduce the conflict. In this study funded by Bears in Mind between 2007-2008, it was done by interviewing farmers and villagers in the study area and developing different types of education materials to be distributed amongst locals in villages and schools. Various preventive measures were tested like electric fences around beehives, apiaries and the use of random-noise generators and placing beehives on elevated platforms. 

Bears in Turkey face many problems. Their habitat is under constant pressure, not only because of human population increase and the ever growing infrastructure projects, but also because of political unrest. To give an example, in 2010 Karacabey Bear sanctuary near Bursa in Turkey received three bear cubs from the east of Turkey. The mother bear had been killed in a bomb explosion. Two local animal keepers are taking care of the bears. The men show incredible devotion in caring for the small cubs, both day and night. It is very important for the local people to see this dedication, as it makes them aware that members of their own community devote their time and efforts to the welfare of animals. By the same token of appreciation, a traditional stone oven was built to bake traditional Turkish bread, not for people but for the bears! Bears in Mind funded the building of the stone oven in 2011.

It is the goal to develop an educational visitor centre at Karacabey Bear sanctuary, where people can learn everything about bears and the problems they face in the region. A veterinary facility will form part of this centre. This is urgently required as until now staff of ‘Second Chance’ (the NGO involved in the management, who are trained veterinarians) have been using the table in the tiny kitchen to carry out surgery on bears. Bears require these medical facilities because they are frequently wounded by hunters or poachers, or because of dental problems resulting from bad nutrition. Bears in Mind will help and give advice to Second Chance on bear husbandry and education activities whenever and wherever possible!