It was in mid-June last year that I met four black-breasted bears from Russia.

They are one-year-old bear cubs at the training center in the forest of Jirisan, and they have a clear half-moon pattern on their chest.

It was imported from Russia in early December 2020.

It was brought to an unfamiliar place in a distant foreign country to be released on Mt. Jirisan.

3 males and 1 female.



The training ground in the forest is about 5,800 square meters.

To prevent the black bear from escaping, an iron fence is placed much higher than an adult's height.

In order not to lose their wildness, be careful not to be detected by the black bears when feeding them.

Bears are also trained to avoid people and power lines.

The black bear weighed about 20 kg when he came here, but it is said that he gained weight in 6 months and became chubby.



I thought I would go over the fence to the forest on a spring day when new leaves were sprouting, but the black bears didn't have a chance to go out into the wild until autumn was abundant with food. Unfortunately, the black bears' hopes have been lost. In mid-November last year, the black bear left the forest training ground and was moved to a place where breeding bears live for ecological education and breeding. After the Ministry of Environment decided to give up wild release and raise them as breeding bears.



The fate of the black bear, who had to live without interference in the forest, was confined to a fence and was tamed by humans. These four black bears were born in the wild forests of Russia. The cubs lost their mother bear by hunters and were sent to Korea after being protected by a Russian environmental organization.



The Ministry of Environment started a black moon bear restoration project in Mt. Jirisan in 2004. Then, until 2007, they started releasing black moon bears from Russia and China into the wild. As the birth of the mother bear, who had gone into hibernation, continued, in spring the cry of the cub woke up Mt. Jirisan. The number of black bears in the forests of Mt. Jirisan also gradually increased. While the restoration project was proceeding smoothly, the issue of genetic diversity was raised. Experts agreed that the genetic traits of various individuals are necessary for the sustainable survival and reproduction of black bears.



Accordingly, the Ministry of Environment signed an agreement with Russia and decided to bring in black bears for 5 years from 2016 to 20 and release them in Mt. Jirisan. The cost paid to Russia was 16 million won per bear. This is the nominal cost of cooperation related to the research. From 2016 to 2019, 11 black moon bears were imported. Of these, three were used for breeding, and the remaining eight were released in Mt. Jirisan. Four of them have adapted well and are living, and four have died.



The reason the Ministry of Environment gave up the release of four Russian black bears brought in in 2020 was that the population of black moon bears in Mt. However, there is also the result of a study by the National Park Service that considers the appropriate population to be up to 78. Han Sang-hoon, director of the Korean Peninsula Wildlife Research Institute, who was involved in the early period of the black moon bear restoration project, argued that, compared to bear habitats in other countries such as Japan, Mt. Director Han explained that the habitat of bears in Hokkaido National Park in Japan is only two-thirds the size of Mt. Jirisan, but about 350 brown bears live there.



He emphasized that more fundamental than the problem of habitat density is the genetic diversity of black bears.

In Jirisan Mountain, even 4th-generation bears are now born and live.

In 2004, Bangsa Bear's grandson, Bear, gave birth to another cub.

It is pointed out that there is a growing concern about inbreeding.



Director Han Sang-hoon said that when inbreeding occurs, it is scientifically confirmed that there are phenomena that are problematic for the survival of the species, such as physical disability or a decrease in fertility.

Director Han added that additional release of black bears is essential for the black moon bear restoration project to be successful.



Experts pointed out that the administration of the Ministry of Environment, which had decided to import for five years from 2016 for release purposes, abruptly changed its plan and turned to domestic bears, was irresponsible and inconsistent.

It is argued that if they did not release them, they should not be brought in at all and should be allowed to live in Russian forests.

He also points out that, although 20 years have passed since the restoration project began, the problem is that the habitat density of Mt. Jiri has been allowed to reach saturation.

Initially, the goal of the black bear restoration project was to expand from Mt. Jirisan to Mt. Seorak to Baekdudaegan, but so far, projects for habitat expansion through release of black bears other than Mt. Jiris have been sluggish.



Wild animals live in the untamed wild, not in a caged enclosure.

We have no right to take away their rights.

If interference is unavoidable, it should be kept to a minimum.

In order for the black bear to live naturally up and down the Baekdudaegan Mountains, it must be released rather than confined.

The safety of visitors and residents and the protection of bear habitats are fundamental.

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