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Just the bare necessities for Estonia’s bear watchers

Monday, September 22, 2014 - 01:30

Watching brown bears in their natural habitat is a big hit for Estonia's tourism industry, as hundreds of thrill-seekers make their way to the Baltic country every year for a close encounter with the animals. Tara Cleary reports.

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The sight Andre Pukk and his daughter have been waiting for … a brown bear in a forest in northeastern Estonia. SOUNDBITE: Andre Pukk, tourist, saying (Estonian): "It was such a huge experience when I came here for the first time. I told my daughter about it and I really wanted her to see it as well." Bear watching is becoming increasingly popular here, especially in spring and autumn. There are a number of forest shelters for viewing bears and although they are relatively sound-proof, visitors still have to be quiet. An added bonus for nature tourists is that the region's brown bear population has grown tenfold from 30 to 300 since the end of World War Two. Guide Triin Ivandi says even though the authorities leave food out to attract the bears, it doesn't inhibit the animals' nomadic lifestyle. SOUNDBITE: Triin Ivandi, guide, saying (Estonian): "They are totally independent from people. No bear comes here for more than one season. So now in the autumn the bears are totally different from the ones that came here in the spring. The bears are always changing. None of the bears stay attached to this place in the woods." And the bears don't seem bothered by the presence of people - this one didn't even notice a passing fox.

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Just the bare necessities for Estonia’s bear watchers

Monday, September 22, 2014 - 01:30