An investigation is currently underway to find the culprit 

Conflict: Following a bear killing eight of their cows in the last few days, the residents of Rukubji chiwog in Sephu, Wangdue are living in fear.

The latest incident occurred on the night September 8, during which a bear had attacked the cowsheds of Nechigang, Chazam villagers and killed four cows, said Sephu gup Rinchen Penjore. Of the four, two were killed on the spot and two were left wounded. The two cows died from injuries.

“When the gewog learnt about the last incident, people told us that more than five other cows were also killed by wild animals particularly by bears in the last few days,” the gup said.

The incidents were reported to the forestry division only after the September 8 attack.

While wild animals have been attacking crops, the attacks on domesticated animals have only been occurring recently. Villagers are worried that humans could be next.

“We are afraid that it might attack children, especially school goers,” said an elderly villager of Sephu.

Chief of Wangdue forest division, Kencho Drukpa, said this was the first time such an attack by a bear had been reported. Until now, only wild boar attacks on domestic animals and crops had been reported.

He said foresters were sent to determine whether a bear or a tiger had attacked the cows. However, he added that since the incident had been reported late, it may prove a challenge for the foresters to determine what animal had caused the attacks.

He said an investigation has to be carried out to determine if the villagers would have to be compensated.

If it is found that the cows were killed by a bear or a wild boar, the owners will not be compensated. However, if killed by a tiger or snow leopard, compensation would be provided.

The compensation amount will depend on the type of livestock killed. For example, the compensation for a mule is higher than for a horse.

Forest officials said that while tigers tend to attack livestock when they are older and can’t manage hunting wild prey, they are not certain about the bear’s hunting habits. However, they said it could be due to factors like habitat destruction and noise pollution.

Bears normally hibernate in winter and during September and October, along with cubs, they tend to frequent apple orchards, especially in places like Thimphu and Paro. They tend to attack people to protect the cubs, officials said.

There have been reports of bears attacking people including cow herders, poachers and villagers travelling through the forest. A few years ago a man survived a bear attack in the locality, said forest officials.

The foresters are also currently investigating the gewogs of Sephu and Dangchu, and the Pelela region to determine how many domestic animals have been killed by tigers, as per the command of the Office of Gyalpoi Zimpon. Two officers have been dispatched to investigate.

Forest officials also said they have also received several reports of wild boar deaths from Bjena gewog, Wangdue, and the Guma and Toebisa gewogs in Punakha. Foresters suspect disease to be the culprit but are yet to prove the cause.

Dawa Gyelmo, Wangdue