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Brown Bears populate the forests of Georgia and the species is included in the country’s Red List (Endangered Species List or so-called Red Book).
Red (Endangered Species) List and Red Book of Georgia
Brown Bear (Ursus arctos) — carnivore mammal belonging to the Ursidae family. The bear is up to 2,5 meters tall and its body weight can be as much as 480 kilograms. The Brown Bear is distributed in Europe, Asia, North America, where it is known as grizzly bear. The animal primarily inhabits forest areas of Caucasus and Central Asia mountains.
Although the bear belongs to the carnivore, it differs from other representatives of the carnivora order by feeding mostly on plants and very little on meat. Bears usually consume fruit, berries, root vegetables, mushrooms, nuts and acorn but also eat insects and honey. In addition to plant food bears pray on small mammals and reptiles if the latter can be found nearby and hunted.
Mostly bears are active at day, which they spend in search of food. Bears have exceptional sense of smell – when making stops while roaming bears sit on their hind legs and try to locate the traces using their noses.
Bears move heavily using all four limbs. At that when in danger, bears can run as fast as 50-60 kilometers per hour. Relatively small-size subspecies of bears are good climbers and can frequently been seen climbing trees for rest. All bears are good swimmers.
In winter bears hibernate – as soon as the first snow arrives, bears look for dens, which they fill with grass, moss, twigs and leaves, and prepare for long hibernation. The dens are usually located in caves, under rocks and beneath large trees.
Unlike in other animals that hibernate during winter, bears’ pulse and temperature remain normal, making it easier for them to react to warm weather – they can leave dens and go food searching then return to the den to continue hibernation. The hibernation period may last for about six months, following which, in spring, bears are weakened due to weight loss.
Bears give birth to very small cubs, frequently two at a time. Newborn bear cubs weigh around 200-700 grams and resemble rats as they are born close-eyed, toothless and furless. The cubs remain in the den with the mother bear, which feeds them her rich milk that stimulates fast growth. The cubs venture out of the den in spring when they have grown a little up.
Bears primarily lead solitary lives, however they can gather in groups when searching for food. The cubs remain with the mother bear for two-three years. During this period mother bear mates again, which allows the male bears to spend a part of their time with the cubs as well.
In Georgia illegal hunt (poaching) is common in respect to bears and other wildlife species that are close to extinction. In addition, bears are frequently captured: as of 2013 information there were up to 50 bears illegally held in captivity in churches-monasteries, restaurants and private territories. Frequently mother bears are killed while cubs are held captive in harsh conditions. Sometimes bear cubs end up being killed in captivity.
Brown bear is listed as an endangered species in the „Red List“ of Georgia making its capture prohibited and punishable by law.
According to paragraph 853 of the Administrative Code of Georgia “killing of wild animals, which species are enlisted in the Red List of Georgia, and are close to extinction, destruction of their eggs, dens and other dwellings, that may cause their death, population decline or disruption of living environment and/or, in specific cases, stipulated by law, hunting of such animals with breach of established limitations/conditions, their sale-purchase without respective license or capture shall lead to fines from 150 to 850 Georgian lari; private items used as weapons during the abovementioned illegal act shall be confiscated along with the obtained animal(s).
Illegal hunting on bears represents a criminal act in Georgia – the fine for damages caused to environment by illegal hunt/killing of one bear stands at 50 thousand Georgian lari.
The Decree #2 of the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Protection of Georgia as of February 2, 2011 provided for “methodology of defining (calculating) damages inflicted to environment”. According to the methodology illegal hunt/killing of one bear in Georgia inflicts 50 thousand Georgian lari’s worth of damages to the environment and the person, who inflicted the damages (killed a bear), by Georgian legislation must be held liable for the caused damage.
According to the Criminal Code of Georgia, hunting of animals that are listed in the „Red List“ of Georgia shall lead to fines or correctional labour of up to 2 years and/or imprisonment of up to 3 years, with termination of work or cancellation of the right to operate for up to 3 years.
Web page of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Protection of Georgia: