18.06.2018 change 18.06.2018

Podkarpackie/ Safer in the forest than in the city

Photo: Fotolia Photo: Fotolia

The vast majority of hiking trails in the Podkarpacie region, mainly in the Bieszczady Mountains and the Low Beskids, lead through forest areas. Meanwhile, 200 bears and over 500 wolves, the largest population in our country, live in the forests of south-eastern Poland.

"Tourists should not be afraid. The forest is much safer than, for example, densely populated housing estates in the city" - says spokesperson for the Regional Directorate of State Forests in Krosno Edward Marszałek.

The forester points out that "if there are any tragic events, they tend to happen near human buildings rather than in the forest". "But when entering the forest, you should to be aware of certain threats associated with this environment" - he adds.

According to the Krosno State Forests spokesman, the fear of wild animals living in the forest "is caused by the presence of fairy tales such as the Red Riding Hood in our minds".

"If it did happen somewhere, it would be over 300 years ago. In 1697, French writer Charles Perrault published +The Tales of Mother Goose+, in which he used this character, and the Grimm Brothers also used this motif taken from folk tales" - he says.

Marszałek says that wolves are not as dangerous as it seems. Although their numbers are higher in Podkarpacie than anywhere else in Poland, they stick to their packs and do not attack people. "It is disturbing when they appear close to a village, but there are no cases of people being attacked by them" - notes Marszałek.

It is similar with bears. 90 percent of their Polish population lives in the Podkarpacie region. In the Bieszczady Forest Districts, "Warning bears!" signs have been placed. They mark the places where these predators actually have been spotted.

"They warn tourists not to enter the dense young forest stands, potential bear habitats. We simply mark the refuges of wild animals this way, so that people know that they should not disturb them" - he explains.

He emphasised that while wandering the natural paths and tourist trails "you can see wild animals, but it is unlikely to encounter a bear or a wolf than would pose a threat".

The forester warns against storms instead. "It is better not to stay in the forest during a storm, and if a storm catches you in the forest, avoid hiding under single, tall trees. The forest is also dangerous during strong winds, because dry branches falling from the crowns can cause injuries" - he says.

The Krosno State Forests spokesman advises that those who enter the forest should wear long trousers, full shoes, long-sleeved shirts and headwear. "This outfit protects from ticks, insect bites, vipers" - he says.

The animals living in the forests of Podkarpacie include 500 bison, 200 bears, over 500 wolves, 250 lynxes, 200 wildcats and almost 10,000 beavers.

This part of Poland is also home to over 10,000 red deer, 36 thousand roe deer, 7 thousand wild boars and almost 340 elks. There are also many smaller predators; 5.2 thousand martens, and 2.7 thousand badgers and polecats. Foresters also counted 23 thousand pheasants and 14 thousand hares. (PAP)

author: Alfred Kyc

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