Animal rights activists have decried the “brutal” culling of a bear by forestry police in Trentino following orders from the president of the mountainous northern Italian province.

M90, a brown bear, was deemed to be a “danger to public security” after the animal was alleged to have intentionally followed people on three occasions, most recently a couple of hikers who were walking along a mountain path 1,400 metres above the town of Ortisé in the Val di Sole.

The “excessively confident” bear, who was identified by its radio collar and ear markings, was also seen on 12 occasions “in residential areas or in the immediate vicinity of permanent dwellings”, provincial authorities said.

Officials said Italy’s environmental institute Ispra had confirmed the need to “remove M90 as soon as possible”. The bear was traced to a forested area in the lower Val di Sole on Tuesday and put down.

The killing comes amid ongoing legal battles between the president of Trentino, Maurizio Fugatti, and animal rights groups over how to deal with bears that are deemed dangerous.

The debate intensified in April last year when Andrea Papi, 26, was mauled to death by a bear called JJ4 while jogging along a mountain path close to his village of Caldes. JJ4 had also attacked two hikers in 2020.

Animal and environmental activists said they would protest in the provincial capital, Trento, on Saturday, arguing that the speed at which the order and execution of M90 occurred did not give them time to seek a reprieve.

Lucia Coppola, a provincial councillor for the Green party, said: “It was a brutal act. The animal had never caused any damage, it should not have been considered dangerous.”

Oipa, an animal rights group, said the province’s policy was “shortsighted and hostile to animals” and did not protect biodiversity.

“We hoped until the end for a change of heart … but President Fugatti was deaf to the request of public opinion,” the group said. “M90 was a young bear guilty of having been spotted a few times near inhabited areas.” It said the only damage caused by M90 was to a farm fence and a bin for organic waste.

Bears were brought to Trentino from Slovenia in the early 2000s as part of a project aimed at reversing the area’s dwindling brown bear population. There are about 100 bears in the province.

A committee established in the memory of Papi had expressed concern over the more frequent bear sightings, especially during winter when the animals would ordinarily be hibernating. It is believed they are venturing closer to inhabited areas in search of food, even in winter, due to the warmer temperatures.


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