Community Assistance

Yesterday as president of the Andean Bear Foundation and as part of our mission to help the community, we delivered energy bars to the @teamsantarita_wnazareno Soccer Club in Barrio La Isla, Solanda and to the Mena Dos Care Center, in the latter site we also gave away vegan yogurts. All these products were donated to us by @bateryec and Thanks to this company for trusting us. We hope that more institutions join our solidarity campaigns of community support and studies of endangered wildlife in Ecuador.

Share this news!

Community support

One of the major causes of conflict between bears and farmers in Ecuador is the bears' tendency to eat corn. In many of the regions where bears live, there are communities of numerous families in extreme poverty, in this type of condition they cannot afford to lose their only source of income and food. Electric fences have been suggested as a possible solution to this particular form of bear-human conflict, but this would not solve the problem, it would simply shift it to another location or to farmers who cannot afford to pay for electric fences.

When a bear raids a cornfield in our study area, we investigate the site and find a considerable amount of corn consumed, we pay a small compensation to the farmer. This has decreased the bad attitude towards bears and they are no longer hunted. However, our study area is only a small part of Ecuador and we cannot compensate all farmers in the entire bear range. Our research is geared toward a greater understanding of how bears use their habitat. With this information, we hope to develop a land management plan, and suggest to farmers a way on how to minimize the risk of having bears eating in their cornfield.

In Ecuador we have reached preliminary agreements with communities to study the predatory bear through satellite tracking, the same for puma and páramo wolf, in exchange we would compensate the affected farmers with a calf for each cow depredated.

The information to be obtained on their movements, ethology and habitat use, we believe, will help us to generate predictive models of bear attacks, with which we could create maps with information on high, medium, low and no risk of predation. In this way, farmers would have the tools to decide where to graze their livestock.

Livestock losses could also be covered if our project can help create an experimental sustainable compensation program by providing the community with a few head of cattle to form a "communal herd" that will be cared for and managed by all members of the community.

In the case of a proven bear attack, a new cow or calf would be given to the affected family. Unfortunately, lack of resources has slowed these bear-human conflict mitigation and research initiatives.

Private enterprise also supports our research initiative, we have received bedding blankets, and some money to help farmers affected by bear, puma or páramo wolf attacks.

We are convinced that there is no single solution to reduce the problem of livestock depredation and that the strategies to be used must be comprehensive and in accordance with the reality of the affected communities. However, we can collaborate with some ideas.

Tips for ranchers to avoid bear attacks on beef cattle

To prevent future outbreaks of predation or attacks on livestock, farmers should:

  • Constantly guard their livestock, organizing patrol groups of two to three people.
  • Do not locate your livestock near the forest.
  • Keep the most vulnerable animals away from the forest.
  • Remove livestock immediately, if they find a "nest" (platform built by a bear) in a tree near the paddocks, and destroy the nest.
  • Immediately remove, burn or bury livestock carcasses or carrion found on their land.
  • Leave 2 or more dogs living next to livestock, which can scare away problem bears.
  • Rotate grazing areas and improve existing pastures.
  • Synchronize livestock births with fruiting seasons in the forests.
  • Consider changing the breed of Creole cattle to Brahman, for example, of which there are no reports of attacks.
  • Keep track of livestock deaths and their causes.
  • Do not allow hunting or the extraction of fruits from the forest to provide food for the bears.
  • Not feeling threatened by the presence of bears.