The political isolation during the communist regime and the economic crisis that followed its downfall adversely affected the conservation of brown bears (Ursus arctos) in Albania. In 2008–2009 we conducted questionnaires and field surveys in southeastern Albania to determine the presence of bears and evaluate bear–human interactions, and on-site inspections to record the status of bears held in captivity. We recorded bears mainly in the eastern and southeastern part of the study area and documented wide-scale bear–human conflicts, which often resulted in the killing and a generally negative public perception of bears. We documented 25 bears in captivity, often under marginal welfare conditions and noted wild-born cubs that were maintained in captivity to meet the demand for captive bears. We recommend additional studies to better evaluate brown bear status; nation-wide education on species conservation needs and how to mitigate negative interactions; and efforts to improve welfare of bears in captivity.
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