A recent 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 US$ 20,000 is estimated for Yusufeli.
‘Problem bears’ in Turkey
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 this 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.