The East Balkan distribution of brown bears is comprised of two presently connected population segments; the Central Balkan and the Rilo-Rhodopean bear population, shared by Bulgaria and Greece. With more than eight known human bear accidents, including one lethal between 2010-2017 as well as increasesd caused in bear damages, Smolyan region in Bulgaria has become a “hot-spot” for anti-bear attitudes. As a result there is a high risk of bear poaching increase. Localised monitoring has provided a rough estimate of population size but until today a joint rigorous methodology has not been carried out. As knowledge of precise demographic parameters is imperative for the design of assessing mortality and designing conservation actions, estimating the bears in the region seems urgent.
This project, led by Balkani Wildlife Society and supported by Bears in Mind, aims to estimate the population size of the East Balkan distribution of brown bears using non-invasive capture-recapture multiple data source genetic methods. The main overall objective is to provide accurate estimates for total (N) and effective population size (Ne) for one of the largest distribution clusters of the brown bear in Europe.