1. Population-level monitoring, management and conservation of brown bears in northern Dinaric Mountains and south-eastern Alps
The main objective of our project is to overcome the current local-scale practices of brown bear management and pave the way for transition to population-level conservation, management and monitoring. We will establish a tightly-knit transboundary network of professionals involved in these issues, optimize monitoring methods and their application, start with long-term transboundary monitoring, and provide first baseline data about these bears at the large-scale, transboundary level. We will create communication and data exchange channels required for such high-level cooperation, and provide expert and legislative backing. This will be one of the first efforts in Europe to start a transboundary management of a large carnivore, an idea endorsed and promoted by the European Commission through “Guidelines for Population Level Management Plans for Large Carnivores”, but rarely done in practice.
2. Decrease of human-bear conflicts and promotion of coexistence
In a variety of actions we will explore what drives conflict “hot-spots”, and use non-lethal solutions to provide best practice examples. We will demonstrate solutions in preventing bears from reaching anthropogenic food, and explore carrion from game road kills as an alternative natural source of protein. We will also promote bears as an eco-tourist attraction, explore public attitudes towards bears, and use this for targeted educational and promotional activities to enhance understanding of this species and promoting co-existence.
3. Promotion of natural expansion of Brown bear from Dinaric Mountains into the Alps
While habitat modelling has shown that the Alps are capable of supporting a bear population and the small reintroduced population in Trentino is thriving, natural expansion is slow. We will use a multidisciplinary approach to look into this issue and try to understand the social and physical barriers to expansion, and the corridors that need to be protected. We will use this and provide solutions to slow down further habitat fragmentation, increase acceptability of bears in the areas where they are currently not permanently present, but where we expect the expansion to occur, and decrease traffic mortality.