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The BEARS Project

"Bear Education, Awareness and Research in Slovakia"

With increased numbers of brown bears (Ursus arctos) in Slovakia since the second half of the 20th century, conflicts between people and bears have increased. Dangerous situations arise for example due to poor storage of food or refuse. Negative aspects of bears often make news headlines, promoting a heightened sense of fear.

The Slovak Wildlife Society responded to this situation by launching the B.E.A.R.S. Project: Bear Education, Awareness and Research in Slovakia. By finding ways to mitigate conflicts, providing information as well as practical help on how to prevent problems, we hope to foster greater understanding and acceptance of bears. The aims of the project are to:

  • Foster greater tolerance and understanding of bears in Slovakia
  • Raise public awareness and knowledge of bears and bear safety
  • Test, implement and promote the use of non-lethal preventive measures
  • Provide the best available information based on scientific research
  • Encourage children and youth to take an active interest in nature
  • Contribute to the scientific understanding of bears
  • Improve the quality of data available to managers
  • Support bear conservation and habitat protection
  • We began the project in 2003 with a survey of public opinion, attitudes and knowledge of bears, wolves and lynx. We found neutral to positive attitudes toward bears. However, the level of knowledge that local residents and tourists had about how to behave in bear country was low. People most often mentioned a lack of information and problems with people as the most important problems in the management of this species. More than 90% of respondents wanted to learn more about large carnivores. We therefore targeted our project mainly on education work. So far we have been working on the following activities and materials:

    Public awareness, education and information:

  • Website
  • Seminars and workshops for adults and children
  • Teaching manual "In the tracks of bears"
  • Slovak version of the film "Staying safe in bear country"
  • "Bear Camp" and other outdoor activities for children and youth
  • Exhibitions of photographs and artwork with informative text
  • Children's art and literature competitions
  • Presentations and seminars for adults and children
  • Information leaflets
  • Regular contact with journalists
  • Calendars, postcards, stickers, T-shirts
  • Damage prevention:

  • Non-lethal methods of livestock protection
  • Design and installation of bear-proof refuse containers
  • Research and monitoring:

  • Survey of public opinion, knowledge and attitudes
  • Studies on bear ecology
  • Monitoring and quantifying bear-human conflicts
  • Developing strategies to reduce conflicts
  • As part of The BEARS Project we have created this, the first and only website in Slovakia dealing with bears in detail. It offers a rich source of information, interesting articles, news and observations and, for photography lovers, a gallery with images from Slovakia and elsewhere. You can learn how to protect yourselves and bears by knowing what to do when they are around.