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Results from telemetry of bears in Slovakia

The first results of research on brown bears in Slovakia using radio-telemetry were obtained by Polish researchers based at the Tatras National Park (TPN) and the Institute of Nature Conservation of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Several bears trapped, collared and released in the Tatras and Bieszczady Mountains of southern Poland crossed the border into Slovakia. During the years 2000-03 a female in the Tatras used an area of 136 km2, partially in Poland and partially in Slovakia. In just one year, 2004, a male caught in the same mountain range used an area of 170 km2, approximately half of which was in Slovakia. The home range of a very large male bear trapped in Bieszczady National Park was even bigger: in less than a year he roamed over an area of 266 km2. Results of the work by Polish researchers have been published in the book "The Tatran brown bear (Ursus arctos)" by F. Zieba and T.W. Kozica, Tatras National Park, Zakopane, 2005, 120 pages (in Polish with English summary).

An EU-funded project in Malá Fatra National Park failed to obtain any results from telemetry, despite trapping 2 bears in 2005-06. After this project finished, permission was given by the Ministry of the Environment for a female bear and her cubs to be shot. Hunters sold the permit to a trophy hunter who shot the mother, leaving her cubs. When the young bears continued the troublesome behaviour they had learned from their mother, National Park staff caught them and relocated them to a more remote area of the Park. One of the cubs was fitted with a radio-collar. Instead of remaining near the release site, however, the young female started to travel. After negotiating the main road and River Váh she crossed Veľká Fatra National Park and a week later showed up in a garden in Banská Bystrica. She was caught again and relocated to Poľana, but she did not stay here, either. She continued heading south and was last located near the Hungarian border, having travelled a total of around 120 km straight-line distance from Malá Fatra.


On 6th October 2008, National Park staff working on a project that we helped to establish in the High Tatras collared their first bear: a 5-year old male weighing 120 kg and measuring 70 cm at the shoulder and 130 cm from nose to tail. After his release, he spent several days feeding intensively in Kôprová and Tichá Valleys, covering up to 12-18 km on some days, including crossing a hiking trail during the night and traversing an alpine ridge. He spent 8 days from 14th October preparing a den at 1300m a.s.l. following which he prepared two more dens at 1500m and 1700m a.s.l. Having spent several more days feeding, his movements from 11th November became retricted to within 50m of the highest den. During cold weather with heavy snow falls a week later he began his winter sleep. Temperatures rose in February and the bear was active 20-30m outside his den for several days, but then went back to sleep, and did not end his hibernation period until in April.

This brief summary of results shows the range and detail of information that can be obtained from telemetry, particularly when using GPS collars.