Locals told to watch out following bear sighting in Brečlav

Illustrative photo: Archives de Radio Prague

Residents in the Brečlav area have been advised to exercise caution after a brown bear was sighted in local woodland on Tuesday. The animal is believed to have wandered into South Moravia across the Slovak border – and may have been in the area before.

A 15-year-old girl horse riding near the village of Tvrdonice in the Brečlav area on Tuesday afternoon got a major fright when a bear emerged from woodland in front of her. When the horse bolted the bear is reported to have followed her and her mount for some distance.

Eliška Windová is the spokeswoman for the Brečlav local authority.

“It’s the start of March so we believe it’s likely that the bear has woken up after hibernating through the winter. It could be hungry but we don’t have information in that regard, because so far we’ve only had one sighting. We’ll see if anybody else spots it. If they do, they should report the sighting to the police.”

Miroslav Kukal of the Czech branch of Friends of the Earth said he had no information that the bear had followed the horse, adding that such behaviour would be unlikely.

“They are usually timid and are hardly ever seen by people. Bears are spotted much more often in the Beskydy Mountains and in Slovakia and they are rarely involved in conflict. There would probably only be problems if it had been in captivity or if it was synanthropic, meaning that it was used to feeding out of rubbish bins in inhabited areas.”

Forest rangers and other officials set out to look for evidence of the brown bear’s presence on Wednesday morning but came up empty-handed. Their search was hampered by the fact that the area is water-logged.

It is possible that the beast – which experts believe entered South Moravia from Slovakia – is now several kilometres away from where it was seen. Nevertheless, officials are prepared to take action if need be, says Eliška Windová.

“Naturally we’ll monitor where the bear goes. But if it starts to appear in inhabited areas or if it behaves very aggressively, we’ve contacted the zoo in Hodonín. They have a tranquiliser gun, as do the local police. The bear would be tranquilised and taken to Hodonín zoo, where further steps would be considered.”

A bear, which may have been the same one, was seen by several people around Brečlav in 2012. After a week the sightings came to an end.