Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wildlife Conservation: Russia Bans Winter Den Hunt for Bears, Countless Cubs Saved

Today new "Rules of the Hunt" legislation was enacted in Russia, which will effectively end the cruel hunting practice of rousting bears from their dens during winter hibernation and then shooting the bears. Often, this hunting practice left tiny bear cubs orphaned, and the cubs would quickly die of starvation or freeze to death.

Since 1995, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW -, has campaigned to end the winter den hunt and to rescue, rehabilitate and release orphan bear cubs back into the wild. To date, IFAW has successfully released more than 150 cubs from its rehabilitation center in Bubonitsy, Tver region.

"The Rules of the Hunt legislation is a tremendous step forward for animal welfare in Russia and reflects the opinion of the Russian people that bears should be protected from this sort of hunting," said IFAW Russia director, Dr. Maria (Masha) Vorontsova. IFAW gathered more than 400,000 signatures against the winter den hunt and notified the Ministry of Natural Resources that the public wanted this kind of hunting to end.

The new law significantly reduces the hunting season for bears and specifically excludes the winter season when bears are hibernating in their dens. Brown bear can be hunted during two different time periods: 1 April to 31 May and from August 1 to November 30. Hunting of the Asiatic black bears now is allowed only from 1 August to 30 November.

In addition to the ban on winter den hunting, under the new law, it is now illegal to hunt bears that are less than one year and females with cubs under one year.

Source: International Fund for Animal Welfare