Brown bear

Ursus arctos


Кафеава мечка


Ariu i kaftë

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Assessment info
Habitat and Ecology
Use and Trade
Conservation Actions


Scientific name

Ursus arctos


Linnaeus, 1758



Assessment info

IUCN Red List Category and Criteria

VU, D1 и B1ab(iii)

Date assessed

December 2020


Aleksandar Stojanov

Dime Melovski

Aleksandar Pavlov


Đuro Huber


Vasko Avukatov


Marteen P.G. Hofman


Despite its suspected increase in North Macedonia, brown bear still faces various threats. The species occurs predominantly in the western, southern and south-western parts of the country, with only occasional sighting in the mountainous areas to the east, most likely individuals of the separate Balkan bear population in Bulgaria. Such restricted occurrence points to uneven distribution of favourable conditions across the country. In that regard, although strictly protected by law with permanent ban on hunting, poaching remains among its greatest threats, followed by illegal capture and habitat fragmentation. The number of individuals is estimated to be 333 and this number is derived from hunter’s accounts instead of systematic monitoring. Therefore, more efforts are needed to establish a sound system to conduct monitoring on a regular basis, providing precise data on population trends, in addition to the needed national action plan for the brown bear.
Based on the available information, the brown bear in North Macedonia qualifies as Vulnerable (VU) under criteria D1 (population size <1,000) and B1ab(iii) (extent of occurrence <20,000 km2, number of locations ≤10 and projected continued decline in area/quality of habitat).


Current population trend



No systematic monitoring has been done to establish brown bear population size, with the exception of the species population estimate done in Prespa region in 2017-2019. Moreover, some data on the population status was provided by the State Statistical Office in its 2012 Forestry Report, based on accounts by hunting organizations, indicating 333 individuals. According the data from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Economy of RM, the population is consisted of 371-381 individuals. Accordingly, the population size is in the range of 333 – 381 individuals.
However, such estimates should be taken with caution. The only tangible data come from periodic camera-trapping in Mavrovo, Pelister and Galichica NPs, PA Jasen and several hunting grounds in the western and eastern part of the country.

Habitat and Ecology



Habitat and Ecology

The brown bear inhabits broadleaved (oak and beech) and mixed forests, with open spaces and fruit-bearing shrubs. Occasionally it is seen in lowland areas near orchards, and above the upper forest line, attracted by grazing livestock, berries and forbs. Species diet analysis was conducted through scat collection in 2018 and 2019 in Pelister and Galichica NPs. Preliminary data indicates that more than 90% of its diet is plant-based (Гонев, 2020).

Use and trade

Use and trade

Although protected under national law, brown bear is sometimes shot for display or its skin used for ornamental purposes. There are cases when bears are captured (mainly cubs) and kept in private zoos. Weak law enforcement is the main reason for such illegal activities. The effect on the population is hard to measure.



Poaching and habitat fragmentation through logging and construction of new infrastructure are the most prominent threats to this species. There are many cases when bears were captured in foot snares set by poachers. This jeopardizes survival rates. In view of the occasional road accidents involving bear, road infrastructure also presents threat to this animal, but the most important is the habitat fragmentation. Other threats affecting brown bear distribution and density include disturbance (noise, recreation), overharvesting of forest fruits that is food to the bear, and placement of poisonous baits to control pest animals.

Conservation actions

Conservation actions

The brown bear is listed on Appendix II of the Bern Convention, it is a priority species and included in Annex II and IV of the EU Habitats Directive and in Appendix II of CITES. Moreover, the species is protected under national legislation, whereby pursuant to articles 9 and 13 of the Law on Hunting (2009), the brown bear is a strictly protected species with permanent ban on hunting. It is listed as strictly protected species under the provisions of Law on Nature Protection. Currently there is no national conservation programme or monitoring scheme for the species.



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Karamanlidis, A.A., Stojanov, A., de Gabriel Hernando, M., Ivanov, G., Kocijan, I., Melovski, D., Skrbinšek, T. and Zedrosser, A. 2014. Distribution and genetic status of brown bears in FYR Macedonia: implications for conservation. Acta theriologica 59(1): 119-128.

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Mertzanis, Y., Bousbouras, D. & Bourdakis, S. 2000. Status of brown bear (Ursus arctos L.) populations and habitat in the area of Prespa Lakes. International symposium Sustainable development of Prespa region: 55-66. Oteshevo, Republic of Macedonia.

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Stojanov A., Ivanov Gj., Melovski D., Hristovski S., Velevski M. 2010. Population Status of the Brown bear (Ursus arctos) in the Republic of Macedonia. Project : Development of the National Ecological Network in R. Macedonia (MAK-NEN). Macedonian Ecological Society, Skopje.

Гонев, А. (2020). Проценка на исхраната на кафеавата мечка (Ursus arctos) во преспанското сливно подрачје. Дипломски труд. Универзитет “Св. Кирил и Методиј” – Скопје, Природно-математички факултет, 30 стр.