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Success: ban on bear baiting practice in Ukraine

f.l.t.r.: Orest Petrowitsch Gnyp (chairman Yavoriv/Ukraine), Heli Dungler (founder and president FOUR PAWS) , Josip Romanowitsch Hervas (councillor Domazhir/Ukraine).
© FOUR PAWS | Stefan Knoepfer

The Ukrainian government has finally banned the cruel practice of  bear baiting. Following years of campaigning by FOUR PAWS. The country’s governing body has passed a law officially banning the use of bears and wolves as bait objects for the training of hunting dogs. Furthermore, the law forbids the organisation and staging of bear baiting contests, or the running of so called bear baiting stations that keep bears as baiting objects. Bear baiting is a particularly brutal form of animal abuse, which involves dogs attacking and biting chained brown bears. The bear is usually chained to a tree with his claws removed, leaving the bear unable to defend himself.


In cooperation with other local NGOs in Ukraine, FOUR PAWS has been fighting for the legal ban on bear baiting for years. The decision of the parliament is a big step in the right direction. Before the law comes into force the President of Ukraine has to sign it first, but this is generally seen as a formality once parliament has come to a decision.


FOUR PAWS is optimistic that the process for implementing the law will be completed soon, and that the bear baiting ban will not only ease the confiscation of these animals, but also have a positive effect on the enforcement of other animal welfare laws in Ukraine. Besides the 15-20 baiting bears remaining in the country, there are dozens of brown bears in Ukraine being kept in circuses or private zoos or next to restaurants and bars for entertainment purposes.

The ban on bear baiting in Ukraine is a crucial milestone for FOUR PAWS and its long-term goal to end the abuse of bears as baiting objects and the illegal private keeping of bears in Ukraine in general.


FOUR PAWS believes that the ban on bear baiting will give a push to solving another one of the country’s animal welfare issues, the illegal breeding of brown bear cubs for profit. Currently the breeding of brown bears is still big business in Ukraine as the demand for bears for baiting contests and entertainment purposes is high. With the imminent ban of bear baiting and an end to the operation of bear baiting stations, this demand will decrease, making the industry considerably less profitable.

© FOUR PAWS | Maryna Shkvyria

Another important milestone in our fight for the bears was achieved with the signing of an agreement to construct a new bear sanctuary in Ukraine. The agreement was signed by the president of FOUR PAWS, Heli Dungler, and representatives of the Yavoriv region where the sanctuary will be built.


The parties agreed to provide all the necessary resources to establish the bear sanctuary and provided assurances that the financial and technical support would be provided for the construction and running of the sanctuary over  the next 20 years. The new FOUR PAWS BEAR SANCTUARY, near the city of Lviv in western Ukraine, aims to offer a species-appropriate home to the remaining 15-20 mistreated baiting bears in Ukraine.