Bears on the prowl  | Kuensel Online

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Forest workers say many of the scenes in the capital are unusual

Shimi Dima and Choki Wangmo

Seeing a bear, or its photos and videos shared on social media platforms, is always a good joke, but the frequent visits from the black beast raise some concerns.

The increased sightings of many black bears in the Himalayas have alerted authorities to warn people, especially early joggers and early risers, to be aware of bears in both Dzongkhaj and the capital.

The last sighting was on December 4 when a bear broke into a shed in Lungtenphu to feast on vegetables stored there. Forest officials dismantled part of the shed, and made a hole to fire a soothing arrow. Then the bear was transported safely over Hongtsho.

Foresters warn people to avoid walking in the early morning and evening

Although there have been no cases of bears attacking residents of the capital, the head of the Thimphu Forestry Department, Gilchin Drukpa, said that sightings of wild animals near settlements are unusual this year.

In Thimphu, bears were seen in Serbitang, Upper Muthiang, Taba, Chamgaika, Tango and Sherry. The closest was in Lungtenphu and one in Babesa although the Babesa incident was not reported. A few weeks ago, forest workers found a dead bear in Serbitang and another in Ximena.

Bears forage for food as they prepare for hibernation. Forest officials attribute global warming and waste as possible reasons for bears getting closer to human settlements.

The chief forestry official said bears have a great sense of smell and can sniff things from 30 kilometers away. “Because people don’t manage their biodegradable waste, bears are attracted to waste.”

Gelchen Drukpa also said that with warmer days, bears continue to nurse and delay their hibernation.

The chief forestry officer of the Department of Nature Conservancy, Namgay Wangchuk, also attributes the increased sightings to food sources, including kitchen waste, available around the settlements.

He said that because bears are about to hibernate, they risk approaching human settlements in search of food.

Another reason, he said, is that wild animals lack a fear of humans. “When people go into their home and take away the forest resources, they get used to the presence of people and they lose their fear,” he said.

A study titled Conditions of human conflicts with bears and patterns of bear injuries in Bhutan showed that between 2015 and 2019, 34 cases of bear attacks were treated at Jigme Dorje Wangchuck National Referral Hospital.

Tsirang . Forest Officials warn people Be careful of bears

Forest officials in Tsirang are warning people to avoid going into forest areas alone, especially in the morning and evening after recent bear attack incidents.

Last month, a man in the Patshaling-Maed chiwog was swept away by a Himalayan black bear when he went foraging near his home. Residents said the encounter was the first of its kind in chiwog.

Doonglagang residents have also reported sightings of many chiwogs. They said that the animal was not only a threat to humans but also attacked their livestock.

One said, “It was too risky to move elsewhere.”

In Mendrelgang gewog, according to the residents, bear sightings occur quite often. A resident said the bears were roaming freely along the Mindelgang-Damvu road, putting passengers at risk.

Residents of Reserboo have reported several instances of bear sightings in their village.

In October, forest officials rescued a male Himalayan black bear from the village. The animal was found feeding on Colocasia and sugarcane species adjacent to human settlement, posing a threat to the public in Reserboo Village.

The injured animal was transferred to Sarpang Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center for further management and treatment.

Last month, a black Himalayan bear was rescued near a house in Tachikuling Chewuge in Fuentencho. According to the Tsirang Forestry Department, the bear is expected to be relocated to a nearby forest with the same living conditions.

The dzongkhag management asked the public in their Facebook posts to be more vigilant and avoid walking alone, using a photo of a huge bear, not from Tsirang.

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