Resident of Vijciems parish, Andrejs Kalniņš, told Latvian Radio on September 24 that the bears had climbed up trees in their garden and eaten plums off the ground uninvited. Hunters were called to shoo the unwanted guests, but they did not react to a shot in the air. When the owners themselves tried to scare the ursines away by banging pots and pans, they bear-ly looked up.
The pair returned later, with dirty deeds in store: tipping over two garbage cans and an outside toilet or outhouse, according to Latvian State Forests.
The Nature Conservation Agency (DAP) has been notified of the duo. The audacious behavior of the two-year-olds raises legitimate concerns about how the situation can develop further. But why are these bears so daring?
"There's the problem that they are, most probably, coming from a sheltered area in Estonia. Or the mother bear has been hunted and they grew up themselves, or they were raised in a sheltered area and the mother has not taught them to be wary of people. Consequently, they are reckless. And this atypical behavior poses a threat. The best solution would be that we cooperate with Estonia, where bear hunting is allowed and solve this specific bear problem," said Gita Strode, director of the DAP.
“This would be a very big exception in our case, given that it is a protected species and the hunting of this species is not allowed. But for public safety, we can allow such exceptions,” said Strode.
Specialists advise that bears should in no way be fed or encouraged to feed on readily available garbage. How they are to be dissuaded from visiting an outhouse is anyone's guess.
In response to the public information on bear damage in the rural area of Valkas municipality, DAP specialists conducted a survey on Tuesday, September 28, to identify already existing and potential damage.
According to DAP, evidence shows that these have been two separate groups of bears. Apart from the teenage duo, it is likely that the other group is a mother bear with cubs. The bears have damaged people's property, which means there is a real threat to the infrastructure and the population.