International animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS has rescued bear Kvitka from a Ukrainian hunting station. On June 27, Kvitka was brought from the hunting station in Terebovlya to BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr, near Lviv. The rescue was followed by urgent dental treatment on June 28. Prior to her rescue, the eight-year-old brown bear was regularly abused for training hunting dogs. She was only allowed to leave her small cage to fight hounds in so-called 'bear baiting'.
“In bear baiting, hounds are set on a tethered animal, often bears, to train their hunting skills. The bears are chained, are often malnourished, and sometimes have had all their claws removed so that they cannot seriously injure the dogs. They can hardly fight back. For years, we have been fighting for a ban of this cruel practice. Kvitka’s ordeal has finally come to an end and she will lead a peaceful life at our species-appropriate BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr,” says Carsten Hertwig, FOUR PAWS bear expert and member of the rescue team.
Urgently required dental surgery
Bear Kvitka was examined on site and afterwards transferred to BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr, a journey of about 180 kilometres. “The years of being kept in a small four-square-metre cage have left their marks on Kvitka. Her health is generally stable, but her teeth are in a terrible state due to poor nutrition and from biting the metal bars. She also had a complicated fracture on one of her teeth, which was festering and had to be treated at once. That's why we operated immediately after the rescue,” said veterinarian Marc Gölkel from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) in Berlin. Surgery went well and the team of veterinarians and animal caretakers will continue caring for Kvitka so that she can adjust to her new home. Once she has recovered from the operation, Kvitka will be able to move into her adaptation enclosure.
Bear baiting in Ukraine
Due to the efforts of FOUR PAWS, bear baiting has been prohibited by law in Ukraine since 2015. Although the law bans this cruel practice, it does not forbid the keeping of bears on hunting stations. Brown bears are still kept and illegally abused for baiting. FOUR PAWS calls for a tightening of the existing law to ensure that in future the keeping of brown bears on hunting stations, in restaurants or hotels is forbidden, and that no bears in Ukraine are exposed to such suffering anymore. Recently, FOUR PAWS submitted a petition of 100,000 signatures to the Ukrainian government seeking to prohibit bears being kept in captivity on hunting stations.
Eight rescued bears in the Ukrainian animal sanctuary
BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr was officially opened for visitors in October 2017. Including newcomer Kvitka, there are currently eight bears at the sanctuary. All have been rescued from catastrophic conditions and now call the 7.7 hectare sanctuary their home. In the coming years, the bear sanctuary will be expanded to cover an area of 20 hectares that will accommodate up to 30 long-suffering bears. With the establishment of BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr, FOUR PAWS has created a home for rescued bears suited to their species, thus supporting the Ukrainian government in enforcing the prohibition of baiting bears in the country.