Bear captured after killing runner in northern Italy

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A bear which fatally mauled a runner has been captured by authorities in northern Italy.

Officials in Trento announced on Tuesday that the animal, identified as Jj4, had been captured overnight.

Andrea Papi, 26, was killed while on a mountain training run between April 5-6, prompting renewed debate over what to do with Italy’s growing brown bear population.

The Trento provincial authorities ordered the bear, who was identified as his killer through her DNA, to be euthanised but an animal rights group appealed to an administrative court, which suspended the order on April 11.

Wild Place Project
Brown bears are coming into contact with people more frequently (Ben Birchall/PA)

She was born to two bears brought to Italy from Slovenia two decades ago as part of a European programme to boost the brown bear population that had been dwindling but has now rebounded and is increasingly having encounters with people.

Mr Papi’s family said they do not want the bear to be culled.

Officials in Trento said Jj14 was captured in a tube trap, baited with fresh fruit. She was sedated and taken to a holding centre pending a final decision on her fate.

Her three cubs, who are two years old and self sufficient, were with her at the time but were freed unharmed.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Trento’s provincial president Maurizio Fugatti said that Mr Papi’s death could have been avoided if Jj4 had been euthanised after her first dangerous encounter with humans.

He denounced as “ideological” the arguments by animal rights groups which have opposed selective euthanasia for known aggressive bears like Jj4, and said the province would have preferred to have euthanised her on the spot, and still hopes to pending a final court ruling.

The European-Union funded Life Ursus project began in 1999 with the introduction of three male and six female bears in the Trento forests, aiming to rebuild the population to 40-60 bears over a few decades.

But the population has rebounded to more than 100 identified bears, according to Italian news reports.

Mr Fugatti is seeking the transfer of 60 “excess” bears from the Trento region and said he plans to convene a working group to discuss the next steps.

A coalition of animal rights groups, including the International Organisation of Animal Protection, or OIPA, demanded Trento authorities “rigorously” respect the court order and vowed to defend Jj4 and her cubs “via all available legal means”.

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