“The brown bear has been less investigated within its vast range in the Middle East as well as Caucasus, unlike other parts of its global range in Eurasia and North America. Recently, the Syrian brown bear which inhabits west Asia was briefly reviewed by the ICS representatives in “Bear in Mind” conference held by Dutch NGO Alertis in the Netherlands.

Globally, there is a significant gap of knowledge within scientific community as Iran is not even mentioned in recent compilations or action plans for brown bears worldwide. Even, in IUCN Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan: Bear, the Iranian brown bear population has been supposed to be “small?” without further data. So far, only ten papers have been published in peer-reviewed journals outlining the brown bears in the region, including four from Iran.

According to IUCN species mappings the brown bears have lost vast parts of their range in Iran and are experiencing severe regional extinction which is not supported by recent investigations in the country. There is no consistent figure about the bear population in Iran, varying 500 to 2000 based on senior experts’ guesstimates. However, the upper limit looks quite unlikely.

The brown bear has not been successful to raise attention of the Iranian biologists until 2007 when the first academic study was conducted as part of the ICS ongoing project in northern Iran. However, presently more than five university researchers are covering the species in Iran. Moreover, legal penalty for bear poaching has recently increased to ca. 1400 $ which is supposed to enhance law enforcement for the bears.

“Bear in Mind” conference was organized in order to celebrate twenty years of bear conservation in the world in Ouwehands Dierenpark between 23 and 25 May 2013. Since 2006, the Iranian Cheetah Society (ICS) is running two different projects in northern and western country on the species to enhance our understanding about the species in Iran besides promoting knowledge among conservation
practitioners.