Long arm of the paw! Cops set up special unit to scare off bears in mountain towns
A special police unit to scare away bears is to be set up in towns around the Bieszczady mountains.
The move comes after a video posted on Twitter earlier this month shows a bear roaming the streets in the town of Sanok.
The six-second-long clip shows stunned onlookers watching as a bear approaches a passerby.
The horrified pedestrian is then seen running across a main road as the bear seems unsure about whether to give chase or not.
Rzeszów police spokesman Piotr Wojtunik told the Polish Press Agency that in response a special police group was being created to deal with bears.
Starting next week, the six-member team will be stationed in Lesko and will be active throughout the summer season when hikers frequent the area.
Wojtunik said: “They will fire rubber bullets to scare away bears, in the hope that the animals will begin to associate humans with pain and become reluctant to approach people and avoid human settlements in the future."
The team will also operate in districts around Sanok and Bieszczady and will take action as soon as they receive a report that property, safety or people’s lives are in danger.
Sanok police spokeswoman Anna Oleniacz appealed to residents and tourists to not take photos or try chasing the predators away themselves, but instead inform the newly-formed unit.
While the special unit will play a crucial role in managing bear-human interactions, Sanok city hall is taking more preventive measures to minimize the risk.
Mayor Tomasz Matuszewski announced that their environmental protection department will be equipped with an app for monitoring conflict events involving large predators.
He said: “Based on reports from residents, officials will record all incidents involving animals. How close they get to people and the damage they do, so it will be known where and how many predators are present in a given area. This will make possible to assess what forces and resources are needed.”
He added that disposing of food waste and ensuring rubbish containers are securely sealed would help reduce the number of bears, saying: "By leaving scraps in various places, forest animals will have easy access to food."
To read more about bear prevention tactics click here.