VeloElan

Issue #2 – Marsican Bears

Saving the Marsican Brown Bear.

Deep in the Italian Apennines, around half-way between Rome and Naples, sits the Abruzzo National Park – dubbed the Garden of Italy. It is a paradise for nature lovers. Wolves, chamois, deer and wild-boar roam the park. Golden eagles can be found in the skies.

Since the days of Nero and Ceasar, the park has also been a home to the Marsican Brown Bear. This sub-species only exists here, and the population is teetering on the brink of extinction. 

Now, more than ever before, this animal needs our help. Over the course of a few centuries, the population has tumbled from hundreds to around 50. The trajectory is not good. Without intervention, the Marsican Brown Bear will become extinct. With it will go a rare reminder of the wild animal populations that we used to share Europe with.

This year, we are releasing new jersey designs to support Salviamo L’Orso, a charity focused on regenerating this small population. Salviamo L’Orso focuses on real-world, small scale steps that make a big difference. They give resources where they are needed, educating local populations and providing a safe habitat for the bears.

Rebuilding a wild animal population

On paper, re-population is simple. The number of bears born and raised to adulthood needs to be more than the number of bears that die. 

In practice, this equation is very difficult to balance. There are no cubs without mothers, so a healthy population of adult female bears is essential. Estimates put the adult female bear population at around 20. Cubs need two years of constant care, so each mother has a litter of cubs around once every three years. 

That’s six or seven maximum possible litters per year. With each litter bringing only 2 or 3 cubs, which then have to battle the odds to make it to adulthood – the bears need all the help they can get.

Roadkill

One of the biggest challenges these bears face is roadkill. In recent years, two adult female bears were killed on the road. That might not sound like a lot – but it is a 10% drop in the breeding capacity of the entire species. 

Since those deaths, Salviamo L’Orso has pursued a policy to eradicate deaths from roadkill. That starts with practical steps, which come at a cost: Warning signs; reflective lights; fencing; educational boards; and petitioning government officials to reduce speed limits at night.

These steps have been extremely successful. No more bears have been killed on the road since they were first implemented. But the system needs to be refreshed and extended. Some of the signs have been damaged or stolen. New reflective signs, that warn bears of headlights by refracting light into the woods nearby the roads, can add to the effective measures.

Making roads safer – that’s always been an aim for cyclists. That’s what we want to help Salviamo L’Orso do for the Marsican Brown Bear.

Check out our range in support of the Marsican Brown Bear as part of our Lineage Collection.