The bear that allegedly killed a young runner in a forest in the Italian Alps last month must not be put down. The provincial authorities want that, but a court has again suspended the order after objections from animal rights activists.
Andrea Papi, 26, was found dead in early April on a forest path near Caldes, Trentino, in northern Italy. It is a popular area for hikers and tourists. His family had raised the alarm when he did not return from running. A search team found his body a day later. The Italian had deep wounds on the neck, arms and chest. An autopsy revealed that he had been attacked by a bear. The man is the first known fatal victim of an attack by a bear in Italy.
A bear has been captured
According to the authorities, there is evidence that the young Italian was attacked by a 17-year-old bear. After the attack, the bear, which is called JJ4, was captured. The animal has been trapped in a fenced enclosure ever since, while a heated debate is raging in Italy about her fate.
Animal rights activists question the evidence that proves that JJ4 is behind the fatal attack. They issued an expert statement in early May stating that a male bear is responsible for the death of the young Italian man. That would have been established on the basis of the bite marks. The provincial authorities’ order to finish JJ4 was suspended for the first time in mid-April. The second suspension applies until June 27.
The parents of the killed jogger are outraged by the expert report and the conclusions of the organization. They call them ‘imaginative and unbelievable’, their lawyers say.
Strong bear population, incidents are increasing
The brown bear was almost extinct in Trentino at the beginning of this century. The transfer of ten bears from Slovenia in 1999 was the beginning of the reintroduction of the brown bear in northern Italy. The original reintroduction plan for the animals envisioned about fifty bears. But the population has grown strongly in 25 years; almost doubled. The animals are taking up more and more space in the mountainous and wooded region.
Although the animals generally rarely come into contact with humans, it is clear that their fenced-off habitat is becoming too small and the possibility of an encounter with a bear is growing. In recent years, the number of incidents involving brown bears has increased sharply. This year alone, four people have been attacked by a bear in Trentino, one of them fatal.
The fatal incident with the runner has sparked a fierce debate about the coexistence of bears and humans in the region.
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