December 11, 2023

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Tragedy in Italy: a bear mauled an amateur athlete

A bear attacked a 26-year-old man while he was jogging in the forest of Trentino in northern Italy.

The incident happened last week, April 5th. Andrea Papi ran on a familiar route in the Val di Sole region (Trentino-Alto Adige region in the Dolomites), not far from his village of Caldes. When the man did not return for dinner, his family became worried. Before that, at about 17:00, the athlete posted a video on the way down Monte Peller (1525 m above sea level). However, an hour later there was a fatal encounter with a bear for him.

After the athlete’s family turned to the authorities, rescuers went along the usual route for Papi. They found him the next day early in the morning in a ravine. The young man was dead, and there were deep wounds on his neck, chest and arms, most likely inflicted by a large predator.

The forensic medical examination established that the bear inflicted numerous injuries on the athlete, informs CNN Greece, referring to the Italian media. An autopsy of the body, conducted with the participation of a forensic medical examiner, a veterinarian and an animal DNA specialist, confirmed that the killer was a bear. Based on analysis of hair samples left on the body, as well as blood on a sharp stick (with which the man tried to defend himself and injured the animal), it was concluded that the 17-year-old bear who killed him was known as JJ4 and was identified using genetic testing. .

JJ4 also attacked father and son in June 2020, writes Air Force. At that time, the provincial authorities issued an order to kill the bear, but the court canceled it. This time they decided to euthanize the bear. “We are doing everything we can to find the bear and keep the locals safe,” said Maurizio Fugatti, president of the Trentino region.

There are about 120-200 bears in Italy, mainly in Trentino and Abruzzo. Shortly after the tragedy, Fugatti issued a warrant to shoot three bears (Mj5, Jj4 and M62), whose behavior was deemed “problematic” and “threatening the safety” of local residents.

The decision caused a mixed reaction from representatives of animal protection organizations. The Italian office of WWF (World Wildlife Fund) supported Fugatti in an effort to suppress the threat. But environmental association Legambiente said it was “the first fatal attack in the country in 150 years,” adding that there should be no “witch hunt” against animals in general.

Nevertheless, local authorities confirmed the decision to urgently start an operation to destroy the bear. Just a month ago, another person was attacked by a bear in the same area, once again sparking a debate about the dangers of these animals. Due to the success of the Life Ursus bear reintroduction project in Trentino (1996-2004), 69 bears were recorded in the region in 2021. Fugati said there were actually about a hundred of them, although the program called for their population to be about 50 animals to ensure safe coexistence with local residents, and stressed: “Therefore, it is advisable to reduce this number as soon as possible.”

Anamaria Prokatsi of the National Association for the Protection of Animals (Enpa), a former MP, denounced the lack of preventive action by the authorities:

“Man is not the target of the bear, which, on the contrary, is a particularly shy animal that keeps its distance from people. And no effort has been made to prevent access to areas where mother bears live with their cubs.”

The environmental organization WWF, although emphasizing that it opposes the systematic extermination of bears involved in non-fatal attacks, felt that whoever was responsible for the death of young Andrea should be killed.

Environment Minister Gilberto Puiketo and provincial president Maurizio Fugati met on April 12 in Rome to discuss a “relocation plan” for some bears from Trentino to other areas. They did not specify how many bears would be relocated or to which regions of Italy. The Minister of the Environment promised to discuss this issue with his colleague in the Interior Ministry.

Papi’s death from a bear attack is the first recorded in the country in at least 150 years. The confederation of agricultural organizations Coldiretti yesterday called for a “national plan” to manage bears, wolves and wild boars, writes “Sport Express”.

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