For sixteen long years, bear Tyson suffered in a dilapidated cage at a remote hunting station in western Ukraine, where we assume he was illegally exploited for bear-baiting. Finally the wait was over, and suffering became a thing of the past. Tyson was rescued and taken to his new species-appropriate home at our BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr.
“Tyson was brutally snatched away from his mother as a bear cub and brought to a hunting station. Typically, at such stations, hunting dogs are trained to attack bears in a practice known as ‘bear-baiting’.”
Carsten Hertwig, FOUR PAWS bear expert
After long negotiations with the owner, the team managed to load Tyson into a transport crate and drive him to his new home, a journey of approximately five hours. He was released into an indoor enclosure and after a short adaptation phase under close monitoring, he was soon able to explore his outdoor enclosure of 1,000 m².
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“I'm surprised and relieved that after sixteen years of extremely bad keeping conditions Tyson is not suffering from any very serious medical conditions. The most severe are his dental abrasion and weak muscles. He will recover well in FOUR PAWS BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr.”
Dr Frank Göritz from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) accompanied the transfer
Bear-baiting in Ukraine
Although the law has prohibited this cruel practice since 2015, it does not forbid the general keeping of bears on hunting stations. Brown bears are still kept and illegally abused for baiting.
In bear-baiting, hounds are set on a tethered animal to train their hunting skills. The bears are chained, are often malnourished, and sometimes have had all their claws removed so as not to seriously injure the dogs. They can hardly fight back. From time to time, bear-baiting on hunting stations is even carried out in the form of competitions.
Today, about twenty bears still suffer on Ukrainian hunting stations.
We call for the tightening of the existing law to ensure that the keeping of brown bears on hunting stations, in restaurants and hotels is forbidden, and bears in Ukraine are no longer exposed to such suffering. Recently, FOUR PAWS handed over 100,000 signatures to the Ukrainian government gathered by a petition to prohibit bear-keeping on hunting stations.
After lenghty observation of the behaviour of bears Tyson and Mashutka, the team at our BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr decided to socialize the bears. Both were rescued last year and have made incredible progress since then. When they met each other it was friendship at first sight: they greeted each other with what almost looked like a kiss. Soon Tyson relaxed, becoming more his lazy self, while Mashutka showed more curiosity, observing Tyson from the undergrowth. We have yet to see if this attempt at socialization will succeed long-term, but signs are looking good.