It is indeed well known that bears are often found in the Romanian mountains. Actually, you may not know this, but the population of bears in Romania has grown to over 7,000. This makes Romania the country with the largest bear population in Europe at this moment.
Romanian bears are usually not very dangerous with people. When they come out of the forest into the neighboring communities, all they want is to get some food. But still, they are wild animals, and one should be careful with them. Only the fact that a Romanian bear could grow up to 300 – 400 kg should make you be cautious of such “cute” animal.
We are describing in this article some useful tips for avoiding bears if you go on a mountain hike or for wild camping in Romania, and know how to react if you are dealing with such situation.
“Prevention is the best medicine” sounds like the best advice not only for caring for your health, but when it comes to bear attacks as well. Instead of defending yourself from bears, wouldn’t it be much easier to prevent meeting bears?
Here are some ways you can prepare for, or prevent bear attacks to minimize your risk.
Be aware of the surroundings
The easiest way to avoid a bear attack is simple – stay away from bears!
To do this, constantly follow the indicated hiking route, and don’t get lost in the woods. I know you probably want to spend your time admiring the views and this is totally understandable. But you should also be careful. By just being a little more aware of your immediate surroundings, and staying on the marked track, you can prevent bear attacks effortlessly.
In the Romanian mountains most of the hiking tracks are marked with signs, either posted on poles, or dyed on trees, so it shouldn’t be very difficult to track them.
Go hiking only during the day
An easy way to prevent bear attacks is to hike only during the day. Sunlight increases your visibility, and you can see bears much easier. When you can see the threats better, it’s easier to defend yourself against them.
Also, if you leave your home before sunrise and start hiking around sunrise, this gives you a good 10+ hours (depending on where you are) to enjoy hiking.
Clean up after you
Bears have a well developed smell sense, and are also smart. When they smell food, they go after it. That’s why you should never leave food remains on the trail. This is even more true if you are camping. Leaving snacks in the middle of the night is a safe way for bears to find out where you are and possibly attack you.
So, be sure to dispose of the garbage in a container that is away from you. Ideally, use a sturdy trash can.
Or bury your waste so that the bears can’t reach it. However, remember that bears can get quite creative when they are hungry.
Travel in groups
“Better two than one” is the best advice if you want to protect from bears and keep them away from you. Bringing a partner or group with you gives you more safety on the route and you can more easily check if there are wild animals.
Especially if you’re a beginner in hiking, it is a great idea to go hiking with others who are more experienced. Not only will you be able to stay away from bears much easier, but you will also be able to enjoy a good conversation in the process.
Stay on the signposted paths
I know it’s tempting to “open your own path” and discover nature attractions in wild places, but it might be safer to stay on track. You will most likely meet other hikers if you stay on the trail. This will keep you safe in the wild.
Also, staying on track prevents you from getting lost. No matter where you are, if you stay on the path you will find your way back to a parking lot or a mountain rescue station. It is much easier to get lost when you are in the middle of the wilderness, compared to when you are on the signposted route.
How to protect from a bear if you meet one
Now that we’ve removed the prerequisites, let’s discuss what to do if you come across a bear.
When you first see a bear
If you see a bear in the distance, stay calm. As long as you’re away and he hasn’t seen you, you should be able to avoid a date. The best thing to do in this situation is to be calm and come back slowly. Stand facing the bear (to see if it attacks you), but start to move away.
It is possible to avoid the situation by remaining unnoticed. If the bear sees you and tries to approach you, it is important to try to appear non-threatening. Don’t go to the bear and don’t try to get his attention. Above all, keep calm and do nothing crazy.
When a bear approaches you
If you couldn’t hide from the bear, and it is approaching you, don’t worry. You can still prevent an altercation by scaring them. To do this, start making noise. Stand up straight, wave your arms and try to look as big and intimidating as possible.
Don’t go near him, because he might see this as an aggression attempt. Don’t even run, because that may automatically trigger his pursuit instinct. In addition, although big and heavy, bears are very fast, so your chances of overcoming one are very small.
The best advice is to stay firm. At this point, prepare with a weapon. Bear spray is ideal, but if you don’t have one, collect any objects that could be used as a weapon from around you (e.g., sticks, stones, etc.).
Should you fight them?
The main idea is that you should try to prevent a fight at any cost, using the tips above. What if he attacks you? Pretend to be dead only if it’s a brown bear. Brown bears are less dangerous than black bears.
If they see that you are unable to fight, they will leave. On the other hand, black bears will continue to attack until you react. Thus, it is good to fight. With both types of bears, you should try to use bear spray.
If you like hunting, it may be important to know that in Romania, brown bears are protected by law and are considered a national symbol. So, you should inform yourself well before doing any hunting of wild animals, as you may end up in jail. Bears are an important part of the country’s wildlife and ecosystem, and they can be found in various habitats, including forests, mountains, and even agricultural areas.
Although bear hunting is prohibited by law, in the last 10 years more than 1,400 bears were shot under specific law exemptions, based on the fact that the animals endangered the population. The Romanian counties with the most numerous population of brown bears are: Covasna, Harghita, Mureș, Brașov, Prahova, Dâmbovița and Bistrița-Năsăud.