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Status and management of brown bears in Turkey

The brown bear (Ursus arctos) is the largest carnivore in Turkey. Its present distribution is mainly confined to the intact natural habitats of the Black Sea and Eastern Anatolian regions. Forest fragmentation and direct persecution by humans have resulted in population declines in other regions during the last50 years. Human-bear conflicts are more often observed in the eastern Black Sea than other areas within Turkey, but the species does not seriously threatenhumans in Turkey. Turkish authorities have not kept records of bear damage, but depredation has mainly occurred on cattle and sheep. The brown bear has a more positive image among the local people than the wolf (Canis lupus). Brown bears are a protected species, but protected areas in Turkey are too small to provide a refuge for the species. Priority actions for the conservation of brown bears in Turkey are legislation development and implementation, research on population status and range, expansion of current protected areas, and identification of new ones. Public awareness and capacity building of the local authorities on theoretical and practical aspects of wildlife management, such as designing surveys, collecting systematic data, analyzing and reporting data, andbrown bear handling techniques, will also play a critical role.