LJUBLJANA Slovenian Environment Minister Janez
Podobnik has approved an unchanged hunting quota of 100 brown
bears in 2007, but a leading conservation body said the
region's bear population could not sustain such a loss.
"(We) expect that the quota will ensure favorable
conditions for the (brown bear) population," the ministry said
in a statement on Friday.
The quota was based on an estimate that there are 500 to
700 brown bears in Slovenia and on the government view that the
number of bears would become excessive unless kept in check.
A total of 121 brown bears died in Slovenia last year,
mainly as a result of hunting and traffic accidents.
The World Wild Fund (WWF), a top global conservation
organization, said it believed the quota was too high and
estimated there are only 500 bears in Slovenia.
"The WWF is very concerned that this quota is too high and
will affect the whole population of brown bears, including
countries like Austria, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina,
Serbia, etc.," Gerald Dick of WWF Global Species Programme told
"There is no clear evidence provided about the population
size, therefore the quota lacks scientific grounds and is not
sustainable," he said.
Slovenia has one of the largest bear populations in Europe
and last year exported five bears to the French Pyrenees to
increase the number there, despite protests by French farmers.
Dense woods, the bears' ideal habitat, cover more than half
of Slovenia, a small Alpine country with two million people.