A bear has been captured in the Italian Alps not far from where it killed a 26-year-old jogger.
Italians were shocked by Andrea Papi’s death in early April in the north-eastern region of Trentino-Alto Adige.
Once the bear was identified as a 17-year-old known as JJ4, authorities issued an order for it to be put down.
But the order for the she-bear to be shot on sight was later put on hold and JJ4 has been taken to a wildlife centre. Her fate is yet to be decided.
“We would have liked to kill the bear on the spot,” provincial governor Maurizio Fugatti told a press conference, adding it would eventually be put down if a court agreed at a hearing next month.
Andrea Papi was fatally attacked while jogging above the town of Caldes on the slopes of Mt Peller in the Brenta Dolomites, prompting fear and anger in the region. He is the first Italian known to have been killed by a bear in recent years.
The animals are a protected species in Italy, and their population has been increasing in recent years after they were reintroduced to the region two decades ago.
JJ4’s own parents had been brought into northern Italy from Slovenia under the “Life Ursus” European conservation project. It had already attacked and injured a father and son while they were hiking on Mount Peller in 2020.
The bear had been with her three cubs when she was captured in a tube-style bear trap filled with fruit, after forest rangers with dogs tracked her foot-prints in snow in woodland in the Meledrio valley.
She had shown signs of aggression in recent days, officials said, destroying cameras placed to monitor her movements.
The captured bear was sedated and taken to the Casteller animal care centre near the city of Trento where another bear known as M49 is also being looked after.
M49 went on the run from a nature park for 10 months and became known as Europe’s most wanted bear when he escaped for a second time in 2020.
Another bear, known as MJ5, attacked a hiker a few kilometres away and the Trentino governor told reporters that the issue now was no longer JJ4 but the co-existence of man and animal.
“Those who are now preoccupied with JJ4’s condition are just being ideological. They don’t have the survival of the Life Ursus project at heart,” he said.
Local mayors in the Brenta Dolomites region have threatened to resign if action is not taken to bring down the number of bears which has surged in recent years to at least 100.
Two of JJ4’s three cubs were also captured but later released and the head of civil protection in Trentino assured the public they posed no risk to humans.
Local officials said the three cubs were all about two years old and in the weaning phase of moving off their mother’s milk. They left the area after their mother was captured, officials added.