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Bulgarian parliament allows brown bear hunting

by Staff Writers
Sofia (AFP) Oct 28, 2010
Bulgaria's parliament approved changes to the hunting law Thursday to allow the killing of brown bears, although environmentalists had slammed the move as catering to the hunting lobbies.

As a protected species, the hunting of brown bears was previously banned in Bulgaria except in the case of accidents and with special permits.

But the approved changes to the law will now require the environment and agriculture ministries to set each year by end-January an annual quota for hunting the animals.

Between three and eight percent of the bear population will be allowed for hunting, under the new regulations.

According to right-wing lawmaker Emil Dimitrov, who proposed the changes, the quotas will most probably be based on a tally of 800 bears.

But even if Bulgaria is known to have one of the largest bear populations in Europe of between 600 and 800 animals, this tally was hard to verify on the ground, environmentalists recently explained to AFP.

Already before Thursday's decision, environmentalists slammed it as catering to the interests of hunting lobbies, under the guise of attempting to curb poaching.

The killing of a man by a brown bear this summer and a number of attacks on flocks and beehives raised tensions in Bulgaria's southern Rhodope mountains, sparking calls for culls from locals.

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