A bear family has set up home near a popular trail in Dolina Gąsienicowa, in the Tatra Mountain, forcing the National Park’s authorities to temporarily close the trail to tourists.
On April 2nd, a tourist recorded a bear cub that fell out of its den right onto the trail. Following this incident, the Park authorities decided to temporarily close the trail leading from Hala Gąsienicowej towards Czarny Staw Gąsienicowy, Zawrat and Kościelec.
“Our observations confirm that there is a full bear family, including the mother and two cubs living in the den. It is a particular place, because it is located close to a hiking trail, in plane sight,” explained Vice-Director of the Tatra National Park, Filip Zięba.
There is a dense network of hiking trails in the Tatra Mountains. Bears often choose locations for their dens directly in the vicinity of the trails, however often these places are hard to reach for people. In the case of bears from Dolina Gąsienicowa, the den is easily accessible, hence special precautions have been taken.
It is hard to estimate when the popular trail will reopen. Everything depends on the mother bear and her decision to leave the den with her newborn cubs.
“For now the conditions for this are unfavourable. We still have winter conditions and a lot of snow in the Tatra Mountains. Often times, mother bears go for longer treks with their cubs as late as the end of April or the beginning of May,” said Mr. Zięba.
The female bear from Dolina Gąsienicowa has not been fitted with a GPS collar and has not been observed by the Park authorities before. GPS collars are usually fitted on animals that venture often towards areas inhabited by people and may pose potential danger.
Brown bears are the largest mammals living in the Tatra Mountains. Every two years, female bears give birth to one to three cubs. The young live with the mothers for approximately 18 months. Adult bears weigh close to 300 kg and live around 50 years.
In Poland, bears are considered endangered species and are under strict protection.
A 2013 genetic study conducted by the Tatra National Park indicated that there were 45 brown bears in the whole Tatra Mountains at the time, including the Polish and Slovak territories, of which 15 frequented to Polish side of the mountains.