Brown bear wintering cases in Lithuania testify to the return of this species to old woods

2019.12.11

Traditionally it is assumed that brown bears do not live in Lithuania permanently but occasionally encounter our country from neighbouring Latvia or Belarus; however, the recent two years speak of different facts.

According to the data of Vitalijus Stirkė, doctoral student at the Laboratory of Mammal Ecology of Nature Research Centre, at the beginning of March of the year 2018 footprints in snow of one adult brown bear were detected in Širvintos district. Subsequent inquiries among local hunters revealed that traces of brown bear living in adjacent forests had been recorded in autumn 2017. Presumably, the brown bear was wintering in the forest, because many signs of spring activities (footprints, signs of feeding, carrion, claw signs on a tree trunk) were found. Later, a camera recorded the animal itself. In May and in summer, fresh tracks of brown bear were detected in Ukmergė district forests. As Ukmergė and Širvintos are adjacent districts, this might be the same individual.          

Since spring 2019, mass media is announcing about hunters' camera recordings of brown bear in Anykščiai environs. Most presumably, the same individual was recorded in Želvos environs at the beginning of summer. In mid-summer fresh brown bear footprints were detected in the forests of Širvintos environs. At the beginning of autumn, a Taujėnai forester found fresh bear tracks in some places. Local mushroom gatherers stated seeking the bear itself on a forest path. If such records proceed, brown bear will be assumed to have settled in this area for long.