Questions over whether to euthanise killer bear that mauled jogger to death sparks debate in Italy

The bear that killed Andrea Papi while he was out jogging in the woods in northern Italy has been captured. Credit: Instagram/Trentino provience

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

Officials in Trento said the bear, a 17-year-old female identified as JJ4, was captured in a tube trap after being baited by fresh fruit.

She has since been sedated and taken to a holding facility where a final decision on her fate will be made.

Andre Papi, 26, was killed by the bear while out on a mountain training run on April 5.

Experts said they were able to identify JJ4 as the killer through her DNA.

Trento provincial authorities made an order for the animal to be put down, but animal rights groups have appealed to an administrative court, which suspended the kill order.

JJ4 is the same Alpine brown bear that injured a father and son back in 2020. Officials also called for her to be put down then, but the ruling was overturned.

Trento provincial president, Maurizio Fugatti expressed resentment and anger over Mr Papi's death, stating it could have been avoided if she had been euthanised the first time she presented a danger to humans.

He denounced as “ideological” the arguments by animal rights groups that have opposed selective euthanasia for bears known to be aggressive, like JJ4.

He told a press conference that the province would have preferred to have euthanised her on the spot and still hopes to do so, pending a final court ruling.

Debates have previously arisen over what to do with Italy’s growing Alpine brown bear population that was once nearly extinct but has rebounded thanks to a European Union-funded project.

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

She is the sister of two other brown bears that have been ordered killed in recent years because of their aggressive behaviour.

Papi’s family have said they don't want the bear killed.

JJ4 was born to two bears brought to Italy from Slovenia two decades ago as part of an EU-funded program to repopulate the brown bear population that had been dwindling to the point of near extinction.

Following his death earlier this month authorities in the province of Trento, northern Italy, ordered the 'capture and killing' of the bear. Credit: Trento province

The Life Ursus project began in 1999 with the introduction of three males and six female bears into the Trento forests, with the intention of rebuilding the population to 40-60 bears over a few decades.

But the project has worked too well, and the population has rebounded to more than 100 identified bears, which are increasingly encountering the human population, according to Italian media.

Fugatti is seeking the transfer of some 60 “excess” bears from the Trento region and said he planned 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 suspension of the kill order and vowed to defend JJ4 and her cubs “via all available legal means.”

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