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FOUR PAWS rescues abused bear from Ukrainian hunting station while helping end bear baiting practices in Ukraine

On June 27, bear Kvitka was rescued by a FOUR PAWS team from the hunting station in Terebovlya, Ukraine, and taken to the charity’s BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr, near Lviv.


Prior to her rescue, Kvitka was regularly abused for the training of hunting dogs, where she was only allowed to leave her small cage to fight dogs in an awful practice known as ‘bear baiting’.


“In bear baiting, hounds are set on a tethered animal to train their hunting skills. The bears are chained, often malnourished, and sometimes all claws are removed so they cannot seriously injure the dogs,” says Carsten Hertwig, FOUR PAWS bear expert and part of the rescue team.


FOUR PAWS Australia Country Director, Jeroen van Kernebeek said that Kvitka’s rescue couldn’t have come soon enough, as the eight-year-old bear had spent the past six years trapped in that cage.


“After an urgent mission to rescue the bear from the hunting station, Kvitka is now safe and in our care. Never again will she be tied to a tree and attacked by hunting dogs, never again will she be kept half-starved so she is too weak to defend herself. Instead, she will now know a life of peace,” said van Kernebeek.


As part of her rescue, bear Kvitka was examined on site before being transported 180 kilometres to FOUR PAWS’ BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr.


“Years of being kept in a small 4m² 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,” says veterinarian Marc Gölkel, who attended the rescue.


The surgery went well and the team of veterinarians and animal caretakers will continue caring for Kvitka so she can adjust in her new home. Now that she has recovered from the operation, Kvitka has already moved into her outdoor enclosure at the sanctuary, displaying amazing resilience throughout her recovery.


With the addition of Kvitka, there are now eight bears at the 7.7 hectares BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr. It has been opened for visitors since October 2017. In the coming years, the bear sanctuary will continue to expand and, after completion of all construction work, will cover an area of 20 hectares that will accommodate up to 30 long-suffering bears.


With the establishment of BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr, FOUR PAWS created a species-appropriate home for rescued bears, thus supporting the Ukrainian government in enforcing the prohibition of baiting bears in the country.


Due to the efforts of FOUR PAWS, bear baiting in Ukraine has been prohibited by law since 2015. Although the law bans this cruel practice, it does not prevent the keeping of bears on hunting stations. As a result, brown bears are still kept and illegally abused for baiting.


FOUR PAWS calls for a tightening of the existing law to ensure that in the future, the keeping of brown bears on hunting stations, in restaurants or hotels is illegal and that no bears in Ukraine are exposed to such suffering anymore.


Recently FOUR PAWS handed over 100,000 signatures to the Ukrainian government from a petition seeking to prohibit bear keeping on hunting stations.

Elise Burgess
Head of Communications
FOUR PAWS Australia
M: 0423 873 382



FOUR PAWS is an international animal protection organisation with headquarters in Austria and an office in Sydney. Founded in 1988, the organisation protects animals by effective campaigns and projects. FOUR PAWS focuses on animals that are under direct human influence, including companion animals, stray dogs and cats, farmed animals and wild animals in captivity such as bears, big cats and orangutans. With branches in 11 countries, FOUR PAWS is able to help animals in need - directly and rapidly.