Home Newsletter 2010 Large carnivore damages compensation in Romania – what was done and future steps

By George Predoiu

 

Romania is hosting significant populations of bears (5000) and wolves (2500), which are distributed all over the Carpathian mountain range. On this territory human activities often overlap with bear and wolf presence, and damages caused to livestock, orchards, beehives and agricultural crops are frequent. These problems are nowadays subject to a compensation system put into place by the Romanian Ministry of Environment and Forests through its territorial branches.

The LIFE EX-TRA activities are focused on improving the effectiveness of this compensation system and on identifying modalities to improve the work based on a cost-effectiveness analysis. Thus, we have acted in three directions:

-          evaluate the real situation in the field (real extent of damage, economic value, number of  claims, assessing the damage circumstances);

-          perform an analysis regarding the perceptions of the public and the relevant authorities regarding the existing damage compensation system;

-          create working tools such as field forms, a data base and an action plan for damage monitoring. This was followed by adequate team training sessions.

Based on two years of monitoring of damages caused by wolves and bears in all three project areas (46 shepherd camps distributed on 600 sqkm), the preliminary conclusions are:

-          in many cases, the circumstances and sometimes the animal that caused the damage were not correctly identified by the shepherds or livestock owners;

-          only very few damage cases are claimed officially to the responsible authorities and no compensation was performed;

-          as a consequence of the present regulation regarding damages compensation, in many cases the circumstances related to damages were not clear and, consequently, the compensations could not be paid.

An analysis of the main involved interest groups, their problems and expectations, revealed that there are at least 4 different institutions that have different responsibilities regarding large carnivore management and damages compensation (APM – Environmental Protection Agency, ITRSV – Territorial Inspectorate for Game and Forest Regime, Local Municipality/Commune and the game management institution). The commission in charge of certifying the damage event is formed by representatives of each of these institutions, who are supposed to meet within less than 2 days from the date of the damage claim. In most cases no veterinary expertise is available and no other persons are trained for the evaluation of damages caused by wolves and bears.

The costs of this system are considerably high (4 people salaries and transport costs for the same evaluation) and the results of the evaluation are not based on specialized expertise.  

In order to provide a support for the improvement of this bureaucratic and costly system, the LIFE EX-TRA project prepared simplified field forms for regular damage monitoring, an easy to use data base to centralize the information and a working methodology that includes a Manual for Damages Identification. Starting from 2011, training for veterinaries and other people involved in damage compensations in the project areas will be organized. Based on the input of the activities carried out during 2009 – 2011, a long-term damage monitoring plan will be submitted to the Romanian authorities in order to be used at national level.