The Brown bear (Ursus arctos) is one of the threatened large carnivore species in Armenia considered
“Vulnerable” in the Red Data Book of Armenia. The species is under pressure because of habitat loss and degradation, caused by the anthropogenic persistent pressure across the country, illegal hunting, poaching and trapping. Furthermore, bear cubs are regularly captured from the wild and kept as pets. There is a lack of recent scientific data on population size, trends, distribution and behavior of Brown bears across the country. However, the research conducted in 2013 in Vayots dzor region suggests that a significant population of bears occurs in the region.
Since 2016, the Foundation for the Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assets (FPWC) initiated a wild fruit tree nursery in the Caucasus Nature Reserve (CWR), focusing on reducing Human-Wildlife
Conflict in Ararat and Vayots dzor regions by planting site-specific wild fruit trees. This provides nutrition from small songbirds to large mammals like bears. Since the project started, the FPWC planted more than 350,000 wild fruit trees aiming to restore the degraded lands, providing habitat for breeding, foraging and resting. Also, the land restoration programme target to tackle and minimize the climate change impact in the country.
The aim of the project supported by Bears in Mind since 2022, is to reduce and mitigate human-bear conflict in the Vayots dzor region by forming a “Rapid Response Group” to gather comprehensive data on the bear attacks and establishing site-specific wild fruit orchards and plantations to keep away the nuisance bears from the rural settlements and providing an alternative source of food and nutrition for bears and other wildlife in the long-term. Moreover, in the short term, the FPWC aims to establish a supplemental feeding programme for the bears feeding them with seasonal fruits and vegetables bought from the villagers of vulnerable communities.