BUCHAREST, Romania — Scientists and animal rights groups have urged the Romanian government to rethink its plans to allow the hunting of brown bears.

In April, the environment ministry said Romania needed to reduce its bear population from the current estimate of up to 6,640 animals down to 4,000. It said bears were encroaching on areas where people lived.

But WWF Romania and the Environmental Investigation Agency on Thursday called on international wildlife experts, Romanian and European Union officials to "to take urgent action to end this threat" to Romania's bear population, one of Europe's largest.

Ruud Tombrock, the director of Humane Society International/Europe, said the government initiative was "clearly in response to strong lobbying efforts" from trophy hunters and agriculture industries. He said it would threaten the survival of Romanian bears.