Agricultural damage and the resulting negative attitudes of farmers are major issues in the conservation of brown bears (Ursus arctos). We analyzed 3,241 approved compensation claims to gain insight into human–brown bear conflicts in Greece from 1999 to 2006. Damage to livestock was low compared to the number of livestock in an area and affected mainly young cattle and single equids. Damage to sheep was low in Greece in comparison to other countries. Crop damage was recorded mainly in small corn fields and vineyards, while damage to apiaries was associated with their general availability in an area and resulted in considerable economic losses. Bear damage occurred throughout the year, but was most common from May to October, and with the exception of crop damage, was correlated with the current range of the species. To decrease damage levels by bears in Greece and considering the current management and conservation circumstances for the species in the country, we propose the large-scale promotion and use of livestock guarding dogs and electric fencing for small fields of valuable crops as well as apiaries. Reduction of depredation to cattle will require structural changes to the way herds are managed, and compensation for damage should be linked to active damage prevention. On a local scale the livestock husbandry systems may be adjusted by increasing herd size and by penning vulnerable livestock overnight.
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Vol. 22 • No. 2