Bear scares Transylvania political summer camp

Beware of the bear signs of the Free Summer University and Student Camp in Baile Tusnad/Tusnadfurdo, Romania, July 2018 Image copyright Free Summer University and Student Camp
Image caption Beware of Bear, say signs put up at the camp

A summer camp for young Transylvania political activists is reeling from close encounters with a bear in the mountains of northern Romania.

The local members of the ethnic-Hungarian minority were looking forward to lively debates at the annual Tusnadfurdo gathering of their branch of Fidesz, the right-wing populist party that governs neighbouring Hungary, according to the Budapest Sztar Klikk news site.

But the first sign that events might be taking a livelier course than usual came on Wednesday night, when a female bear entered the camp at Baile Tusnad and bit a man on the arm and clawed his leg. He is receiving treatment in a local hospital, the Romanian newspaper Adevarul reported.

But when the bear reappeared in the parking lot the following evening, many of the participants "ran screaming in panic", Sztar Klikk said.

Image copyright Observator TV
Image caption Preparing to move the bear to the Zarnesti Sanctuary

The encounters have more than local implications, as Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban is due in the camp at the weekend to deliver a keynote speech about his government's policy towards Hungarian communities abroad. He used the same event to set out his vision of building an "illiberal state" back in 2014.

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Csaba Borboly, the head of Harghita Council, said he had asked the Romanian government to deal with the danger posed by bears in the area for some time. Environment Minister Gratiela Gavrilescu responded by authorising hunters to move the mother bear to the Zarnesti Bear Sanctuary - in particular as it appeared that her cubs had been killed in a train collision, and there was a danger that she might become more aggressive, Romania's Observator TV reports.

The forests of Transylvania are home to 6,000-7,000 brown bears, and controlling the population has been a hot political issue in Romania for years.

Image copyright Observator TV
Image caption Hunters drive the bear away from the camp with smoke canisters

Reporting by Tom Mulligan and Martin Morgan

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