Estonia features summertime killer bear hunt

He's dead. Illustrative.


For over a month, Valtu Village near Rapla has been troubled by a bear targeting bee hives with three slayed sheep and a calf under its belt. Environmental Board granted local hunters to shoot the beast dead.

A local sheep farmer, Rain Raudsepa has already lost three. And a lamb is still missing.

The carcases found on a nearby meadow were a grisly sight. Two had heads bitten off, one had a hind leg missing.

Mr Raudsepa has reckoned the loss is several thousand euros. A breeding sheep costs €900. Environmental Board says the three sheep that perished are to be compensated by €480.

For the lost sheep, no pay.

On top of the above, Mr Raudsepa had to summons a veterinarian official to declare the animals dead and arrange utilisation of the carcase. These costs are not compensated by the board.

Though saddened, Mr Raudsepa stays upbeat. «I total 700 sheep, enough for both bears and wolves,» he laughs, pointing to the 80 hectares designated for use by the herd.

Judging by the carcases, local hunters esteemed the bear’s fangs to be at least six centimetres apart.

They proceeded to pick up the trails. Back paw trace was 30 centimetres in diameter.  Front ones are limited to 18.

Mr Raudsepa says the hunters think some five to six full grown bears may be around, with 15 cubs between them. By the board, they are allowed to shoot but one.

Hunters’ representative Ülo Treial said the hunt is the only solution. «The bears have become too bold,» he noted.

Mr Treial tells us no cub will be an orphan. Before shooting to kill, the hunters will make sure a bear is no mama – though these are the meanest...

In South Estonia, Mr Treial once faced a bear himself. The animal rose to its hind feet within 15 metres. He could have shot it, but opted out of it. The situation was settled with no party injured.

Mr Treial says when one meets a bear in the woods, main thing is to stay calm. Make sure not to try to run, or make abrupt movements.

Also, the hunter advises no eye contact: «The predator will read the fear.»

Cätriin Vuks is summer reporter at Postimees