Because of its biological characteristics, its important place in the minds of humans, and the considerable international interest for its conservation, management of the brown bear (Ursus arctos) in Europe is challenging. The Brown Bear Management Plan for Croatia (BMPC) was approved in 2004 and addressed interests such as ecology, aesthetics, and economics, as well as concern for the safety of people and property. It attempts to ensure conditions for the long-term survival of the brown bear, a species listed as endangered by some international regulations but as a game species (subject to regulated hunting) in others, including Croatia. Careful evaluation of actions affecting population size represents the most critical part of this plan. Those actions should sustain long-term viability of the bear population while maintaining densities at a level that minimize human–bear conflict. To achieve this goal, a series of actions and measures have to be regulated that are related to (1) bear habitat, (2) human activities in the habitat (e.g., highway construction, feeding of bears by humans), (3) prevention of problematic bear occurrences, and (4) the scientific monitoring of population changes. Although the plan's development and implementation is the responsibility of bear management experts, various interests groups were considered. In large carnivore management, and especially in bear management, there are no final and universal solutions. Changes in the number of bears, areas of their presence, or behavior require new decisions. This plan offers guidelines for the decision-making process, and, because it includes a revision process, can be adapted to address new circumstances that arise. Citizens interested in conservation, not only in Croatia but also in neighboring countries, expect Croatia to work toward maintaining the long-term existence of as many bears as possible in appropriate habitats, with as few negative effects as possible. This plan is an important step in fulfilling those expectations.
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Vol. 19 • No. 1