Our latest research indicated severe genetic impoverishment of brown bear population in Slovenia and Croatia, which represents the northern edge of the larger Dinaric-Pindos population. Statistical models showed that soon a radical decline of population size is imminent due to the problems, related to critically low genetic variability, if present genetic structure is maintained. Leading Slovenian and Croatian national institutions already prepared an Action plan for urgent intervention. Canada will contribute to resolve the genetic status of our bear population and official proposal for introduction of grizzly bears to Kočevsko region in Slovenia and Velebit mountains in Croatia have been already submitted to European institutions for confirmation. Official plans foresee the release of 35-40 grizzlies in Slovenia by the end of 2017 and in Croatia in the beginning of 2018.
Some stakeholders expressed their concerns, that new introductions might increase human-bear conflicts, as grizzlies are known to show less fear of people, being largely descendants of domesticated and then released “dancing bears”. However, the researchers promised to closely monitor introduced individuals and react immediately with euthanasia, if the conflicts would occur. The introduction plan is widely welcomed by Slovenian and Croatian hunters, as it brings better possibilities for trophy hunting, especially since grizzlies are known to grow up to three-times the size of our autochthonous bears.