Woman, 31, dies after being chased by bear in Slovakia

A brown bear eats food in Zagreb Zoo, Croatia (EPA)
A brown bear eats food in Zagreb Zoo, Croatia (EPA)

A 31-year-old woman has died after a bear in Slovakia chased her and a companion.

The woman, from Belarus, was walking with her male friend in the Low Tatras mountain range when they encountered the brown bear.

According to the man they both ran away in different directions in the Demänovská Valley, which is a popular area for hikers featuring dense forest and steep ravines.

The Slovak Mountain Rescue Service recovered the woman’s body using a search dog on Friday evening after her friend went for help, the BBC reported.

When authorities found her body the bear was nearby, and had to be scared away from the scene by multiple gunshots from the Mountain Rescue Service.

It remains unclear at this stage if the woman was killed by the bear or died in a fall. Authorities said they will make the information public if it transpires the bear killed her.

Brown bears are common in eastern and north-eastern Europe, but are mostly found in the Carpathian Mountains that stretch across Ukraine, Slovakia, Poland and Romania.

Slovakia’s brown bear population was also hunted to extinction in the 1930s but has since rebounded. Researchers believe around 1,275 bears are currently in the country.

There have been an increasing number of bear attacks in the country, including one that was fatal in 2021 - the first in Slovakia in more than a century.

The brown bear population is a hot political topic in the country, with Slovakia’s new populist nationalist government wanting less EU environmental protection for predators such as wolves and bears.

However environmental groups, such as the WWF and the Slovak Wildlife Society, have pushed back against any plans to cull the brown bear population in the country.