Poenari Castle, better known as Dracula's castle, has something potentially more terrifying than the famous vampire. A female brown bear protecting her three cubs has kept tourists from visiting the famous castle.
To access the ruins of Poenari Castle, visitors would have to climb up 1,480 steps. As if this weren't difficult enough, several visitors have reportedly encountered bears while going up to the ruins. This has prompted Romanian authorities to temporarily declare the castle to be off limits while they deal with safely relocating the bear and her cubs.
Bram Stoker published his gothic novel “Dracula” in 1897. Stoker based the story on a historical figure, Prince Vlad Tepes, who has the sinister nickname “the Impaler”. Vlad the Impaler turned Poenari Castle into one of his main fortresses in the 15th century. Some claim that the castle is the basis for the book's Castle Dracula, though it's unlikely that Stoker did take inspiration from Poenari Castle.
Of course, this hasn't stopped Dracula fans and gothic horror enthusiasts from treating Poenari Castle as Dracula's castle. However, a growing population of bears has been scaring visitors off. After all, though stories may be horrifying but fun, real threats aren't often as entertaining.
Brown bears mate around May to July, though mating season can go later in northern areas. Female bears reach sexual maturity at around five years old on average. They go in heat every three to four years, and can be quite promiscuous then. When bears hibernate for the winter, the fetus begins to attach to the mother's uterine walls. This is conditional to the mother's health and weight. If a female bear wasn't able to gain enough weight before hibernation, her body will reabsorb the fetus.
As many may know, mother bears are well-known for being quite protective of their cubs. A mother bear will challenge a male twice her size if he is threatening her cubs. In fact, mother bears have died trying to protect her cubs from large males.
Stephen Herrero, in his book Bear Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance, writes that brown bears rarely attack humans. However, brown bears do have an unpredictable temperament and will attack if they feel threatened.
The bears at Dracula's castle aren't the first bears that Romanian authorities have had to deal with. In 2014, Romanian politicians called for military intervention in controlling bear populations. This time, however, the problem is fortunately not that big.
Romanian police say that tourists often leave food in the area, which attracts bears. This is an example of how irresponsible or careless tourist behavior can have consequences that we don't expect.
The environment ministry in Romania has given the green light to relocate the mother bear and her four cubs. Perhaps they'll soon move to an area away from Dracula's castle and other tourist hot spots.
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