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Analyses of human-bear conflict in Yusufeli, Artvin, Turkey

Ambarlı, Hüseyin
Increasing levels of conflict between brown bears and rural people have been reported for Yusufeli (Artvin, Turkey). This study aimed to document the conflict, understand human attitudes and responses, determine local habitat use and daily activity patterns of bears, and evaluate available damage prevention techniques. The study was conducted within landscapes at different scales, ranging from a core area defined by a large valley system to the whole of Artvin Province. Data on close encounters, injuries and damages caused were collected through government records, published literature and open-ended interviews with the locals. Bear presence and activity were monitored through various techniques, including the capture and radio-collaring of one individual. Population density was found to range between 11-27 adult bears/100 km2. Bear activity increased during hyperphagia, with many daytime observations. Interviews (n=67) showed that almost all (95%) locals believed that bears have become more of a problem lately. Only 6% supported full protection while 38% conditionally accepted it. On more than two-thirds of close encounters, the bear and person(s) involved departed without any harm. Rare bear attacks on humans, usually provoked, sometimes caused non-fatal injuries. Several bears were found to be shot and killed within the study area in 2002-2005. Damages were mostly in late summer on field crops and orchards, and in spring on beehives. Precautions taken by villagers differed in effectiveness against bears. Bears caused a minimum of USÞ21,500 worth damages annually at Yusufeli County. Implementation of modern techniques of exclusion and scaring would reduce human-bear conflict in the region.