For the second time in recent history, brown bears have been declared extinct in Austria. "Unfortunately there are no bears left in Austria. The last bear, known as ‘Moritz', an Austrian born bear, has not been seen since 2010.  This sub-population is now deemed to be extinct." said Christian Pichler of WWF Austria.">
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Brown bears declared extinct in Austria - Again

29/02/2012 14:33:54
world/europe/austria-bears

No bears have been recorded in Austria since 2010.

No bear sighting since 2010.
February 2012. For the second time in recent history, brown bears have been declared extinct in Austria.

"Unfortunately there are no bears left in Austria, in the Northern Limestone Alps. The last bear, known as ‘Moritz', an Austrian born bear, has not been seen since 2010. . This sub-population is now deemed to be extinct." said Christian Pichler of WWF Austria.

Introduction project
The bears in the Northern Limestone Alps originate from a WWF Austria introduction project. Three bears were released in the Northern Limestone Alps by the ‘WWF Bear Release Programme', that ran from 1989 to 1993. The location was chosen because one single male bear (Known as "Ötscherbär") had naturally dispersed to the area in 1972.

35 bears - Many poached
"Between 1989 and 2010 at least 35 bears have lived in this region. WWF Austria worked for more than 20 years on this project to bring back bears to Austria and to the Alps. One reason why we failed was poaching; more than 20 bears have gone missing without explanation. But another reason was the small founder population." added Christian Pichler.

The brown bear population in the Border Triangle, covering regions in Austria, Italy, and Slovenia, is connected to the large population of the Balkans. Bears - mostly young males - disperse from the core southern Slovenia population towards the Alps.

Hunting increased
The numbers of bears that reach the Alps is dependent on the Slovenian hunting regime. In the last decade the hunting quotas were considerably increased because dispersing bears created conflicts with bee keepers and stockbreeders.

"We all believe and hope that this is not the end of the whole story of bears in Austrian Alps, but only of one sad chapter. And we hope that next chapters will be more positive and that bears will be back to this area again." said Dalibor Dostal, the director of European Wildlife conservation organization.

WWF Austria, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and France are working on a Brown Bear Conservation Strategy now. It will be published in the next 3 months.

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