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Minister of the Environment Gratiela Gavrilescu told a press conference this Friday in Targoviste that the ministry had identified European funding for the inventory of Romania's bear population.

''Since I am concerned with what is happening and as I seek to get an exact picture of animal numbers, of the bear population numbers, together with my colleagues from the Environment Minister, together with the Biodiversity Directorate we proceeded to identifying money under the Large Infrastructure Operational Program (POIM) to perform a survey for us to get a clear radiography by doing a species inventory; we will thus no longer be left guessing or taking into account only what the hunting ground administrations say, let's look for a way inside the project to do this, towards the end of May, when it's completely put on paper," Gavrilescu said.

The EnviMin added that Romania's bear population is several times higher than that of the entire European Union.

"Under this project we will do the inventory because it takes time and money, as so far this has been done on paper only, based on the reports of each hunting ground administration and because we assume that Romania's bear population is not 5,000 - 6,000-strong (some say 7,000) but far bigger. Under this program we will know exactly the numbers. (...) Romania has a bear population several times higher than the EU's entire population, specifically, whereas the EU is estimated to have around two, three thousand bears, we have three times more," Gavrilescu said.

At the same time, the Minister of the Environment reiterated the need to protect human life, not just the animals.

"As a minister, I think I have taken a lot of heat for allegedly killing, slaughtering the protected species bear, for having no mercy on them, and each time I explained that the human-animal relationship has been here ever since humanity has walked the earth and that it must be further protected, it must be preserved. But just as we want to take care of a protected species, we must also take care of human life," Gavrilescu said.

Environment Minister Gratiela Gavrilescu was in Dambovita County on Friday, where she attended a working meeting with the county authorities, mayors and heads of devolved institutions. AGERPRES (RO - author: Cornelia Dumitru, editor: Anamaria Toma; EN - author: Simona Klodnischi, editor: Adina Panaitescu)

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