Brown bears in Greece

Arcturos Bear Sanctuary, Mount Nympeon Greece

Some 150 brown bears survive in Greece in two isolated populations in remote areas of the Rodopi and Pindos Mountain Ranges, where 20–25 and 125 individuals occur, respectively

Interesting slideshow here from the BBC on studying bears in Greece.

Conservation of brown bear and its habitats in Greece

During the 17th century, bears reached all the way to Peloponnisos, while a few years ago bears were still present on Mount Olympus. Today, bears are found only in remote areas of the Pindos and Rodopi Mountain Ranges, forming two small population nuclei with no connections between them. There  are approximately 150 individuals. The geographical connection of the brown bear populations in the Balkans and their conservation in neighbouring countries increases the probability for the survival of the species in Greece.

Arcturos Bear Sanctuary

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One of the first tasks of Arcturos, in 1992, was to provide a hosting facility for confiscated dancing bears. In 1993, with the assistance of the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), the Bear Sanctuary was built outside the traditional village of Nymfeo, near Florina. The five hectare enclosure is built in beech forest, which is a natural habitat of wild bears. Before reaching the Sanctuary, all confiscated bears went through a rehabilitation period at the Veterinary Station. Today, there are fifteen bears at the Sanctuary, including, apart from ex-dancing bears, animals from zoos and circuses. Note ARCTUROS has hosted many volunteers from various European countries.

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The dietary habits of the Brown bear (Ursus arctos) in western Greece

Knowledge of the dietary habits of an endangered species is essential to its management and conservation. The brown bear (Ursus arctos) exists in two isolated population in Greece, but only initial management actions have been taken to improve the habitat of this species. To improve our understanding of the ecology and habitat requirements of this species, we examined the dietary habits of the brown bear in the Panagia-Grevena region, of Macedonia, Greece. In total, 360 scats of brown bear were collected between 2002 and 2004 during spring, summer and autumn months. Scats were analyzed by their frequency of occurrence, volumetric and dry weights, and their importance values. Microhistological analysis was applied to estimate the proportion of wild and cultivated plants in the diet. The most important type of food in the spring was green vegetation, while, in the summer, fruits of Pyrus sp., Morus sp., Prunus sp. and Rubus sp. were important food items. In autumn, hard masts, mainly oak (Quercus sp.), were essential foods for the brown bear. The frequency of vertebrates in the diet was higher in the summer and autumn while that of invertebrates was higher in the spring. In summary, the brown bear is an omnivorous species that lives in Greece and adapts its diet according to food availability and human activities in its habitat. For this reason, human activities in the study area must take the needs and requirement of brown bears into consideration.