The authorities in the northern Italian Alps killed a brown bear deemed “dangerous” to hikers and in light of his “excessive confidence” to frequent urban and peri-urban areas, said the officials on Tuesday (Feb 6). The killing of the two-and-a-half-year-old bear has since sparked protests by animal rights groups and even came under scrutiny of Italy’s environment minister.
What did the provincial authorities say?
The two-and-a-half-year-old male bear identified as “M90” was killed on Tuesday by Trentino forestry officials, said the authorities in the autonomous province of Trento, in a statement.
“M90 was a dangerous animal… in light of his excessive confidence and frequenting of urban and peri-urban areas,” said the officials.
M90 was killed by members of the forestry corps in the Sole Valley in the eastern Alps following the orders of the president of the autonomous province Maurizio Fugatti.
The statement also noted that the bear had followed people on multiple occasions. M90 most recently followed a pair of hikers for more than half a kilometre in January along a forest trail in Mezzana.
The Higher Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA) “confirmed the need to remove the M90 bear as soon as possible,” said the statement.
Notably, the province in question has been in the midst of an ongoing debate with environmental groups on what to do about the rise in the population of the once nearly extinct Alpine brown bear.
However, the debate intensified last year when a 26-year-old jogger identified as Andrea Papi was mauled to death along a mountain path close to his village of Caldes by a bear called JJ4.
Environmental groups to protest
In M90’s case the environmental groups have said that the speed with which the order and execution took place, they did not even get the time to seek a stay.
The timing of the decree and the execution “make us think that while the order was being signed, the rifles were already smoking,’’ said Massimo Vitturi of the LAV animal rights group, as quoted by the Associated Press.
The Italian branch of the International Organization for Animal Protection (OIPA) called the decision to cull M90 “short-sighted” and one that “does not protect biodiversity”.
“M90 was a young bear guilty of having been spotted a few times near inhabited areas,” said OIPA in a statement, as per AFP. The environment groups have announced a protest on Saturday (Feb 8) in the provincial capital, Trento.
Italy’s environmental minister, Gilberto Pichetto Fratin, in a statement also questioned if culling was the best option and said that “it can’t be the only alternative.” He also called for efforts “to guarantee a peaceful cohabitation in the territory.”
(With inputs from agencies)