Ursus arctos (Linnaeus 1758) Brown Bear
Hebrew name: דב חום, dov hum
Global Threat: NE – Not Evaluated
Regional Threat: RE – Regionally Extinct
Historic distribution: Tristram (1863/4) saw a brown bear in Nahal Arbel and east of the Jordan in the Gilead and Bashan. He also found many footprints in the snow on Mt. Hermon (Ilani 1979). Theodore Kotchi (1864) wrote that bears were very common on Mt. Hermon (Shmida & Livneh 1980). Eliezer Smoli wrote that Alexander Zeid saw a bear on the slopes above Kefar Gil’adi in 1917 (Paz 1992). Aharoni (1946) notes that the last bear on Mt. Hermon was shot in Majdal Shams in 1917. Talbot (1960) reported that brown bears were still seen on Mt. Hermon until this year (in Harrison & Bates 1991). In the 1990s a live brown bear was observed (and filmed) in southern Lebanon.
Typical Habitat: Rocky landscapes with permanent food and water sources, in Mediterraniean woodland and in arid mountainous areas with less than 150 mm precipitation (Ilani 1979).
Major Extinction Factors:
1. Hunting, for fur and as a prestigious sport.
2. Hunting due to conflict with farmers: Lebanese bears also fed on chickpeas and grapes. Bears will also sometimes hunt slow ungulates (cows, sheep and goats).
Period during which Species Became Extinct: The brown bear probably became extinct in Israel in the early 20th century.
Species Rehabilitation Possibility: Impossible due to the fear of damage to man and cattle and due to a lack of suitable land expanses to maintain a sustainable population.