Where does that leave international hunters interested in this species? There are few options. Western Russia has some brown bear hunts, but we are told success rates are iffy. Bulgaria offers some limited brown bear opportunities, as well as Slovenia and Bosnia. Croatia has decent populations that survived the civil war there, but we understand the bears may run about 30 percent smaller than those in Romania, although gold and silver medal quality exists.
There are also a number of operators who book bear hunts in Croatia. Dimitrijevic is one of them. He says the hunting period is October/November and March/April during periods of the full moon. Hunts are conducted at night, baiting the bears at established bait sites where tracks and sightings by gamekeepers indicate a large bear is present. Hunters are placed in elevated blinds over the baits and shoot bears under the moonlight. Dimitrijevic says hunters may see two or three bears a night. Other species available in Croatia include free-range mouflon sheep and Balkan chamois.
(Postscript: At press time, for another perspective on the bear closure in Romania, we called Bob Kern of The Hunting Consortium. He concurred that hunting was indeed closed but he was not convinced it would stay that way. Seems there is a move underway to create a position paper documenting the healthy and sustainable bear........(continued)