Hipolito, D., Reljić, S., Rosalino, L.M., Wilson, S.M., Fonseca, C. & Huber, D. (2020) Brown bear damage: patterns and hotspots in Croatia.Oryx, 54(4), 511-519. DOI:10.1017/S0030605318000236 (IF2019 2,199; Q2 Biodiversity Conservation)
Human–bear conflicts resulting from livestock depredation and crop use are a common threat to the brown bear Ursus arctos throughout its range. Understanding these conflicts requires the recording and categorization of incidents, assessment of their geographical distribution and frequency, and documentation of the financial costs and the presence of any preventative measures. Damage compensation schemes can help mitigate conflicts and, in some cases, improve acceptance of bears. This study aims to elucidate the major factors determining the patterns of damage caused by bears, examine the effectiveness of preventative measures in reducing such damage, and identify bear damage hotspots in Croatia. Our analysis is based on damage reports provided by hunting organizations to the Croatian Ministry of Agriculture during 2004–2014. The highest number of claims were made for damage to field crops and orchards. Damage to livestock, agricultural crops and beehives resulted in the highest total cost to farmers. Damage to beehives and to automatic corn feeders for game species incurred the highest cost per damage event. We identified a hotspot for bear damage claims in Croatia, located near Risnjak National Park and the border with Slovenia. Damage appears higher in areas that have more villages closer to protected areas and a greater per cent of forest cover, indicating a synergistic effect of protected environments that facilitate bear movements and the presence of human activities that provide easily accessible food for bears.