People And Bears Make Easy Neighbors In Croatian Village

Usually in Europe, when bear cubs get used to humans, they cannot survive in the wild. And when they grow too big, they're shot.
But not in the remote mountain village of Kutarevo, Croatia. Here since 2002, retired social worker Ivan Cernkovic-Pavenka has provided a haven for brown bears that wander into villages in search of food and develop too strong a taste for human leftovers.
Two sanctuaries walled off with simple chain-link fences allow the eight resident bears to roam freely beside, but not into, the village. To the rear lies forest wilderness, where the domesticated bears would face risk of attack by wild bears. So the bears are confined to two enclosures approximately 150 yards wide each.
Cernkovic-Pavenka said, "We wanted to offer an alternative to killing orphan bear cubs that got attached to human civilization."
Hundreds of volunteers worldwide come to Kutarevo annually to help Cernkovic-Pavenka. Visitors are advised to enjoy watching the bears play and eat and laze about.
While most of Europe's brown bears have been wiped out, Croatia's native population is estimated at 1,000.



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