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Home » Bear Held for Killing Jogger in Italy is Innocent, Say Animal Activists

Bear Held for Killing Jogger in Italy is Innocent, Say Animal Activists

by Adan Siurana

Welfare group claims two forensic reports show culprit was male, while captive bear is female

Animal rights activists are calling for the immediate release of a female bear captured on suspicion of killing a jogger in northern Italy after they claimed tests showed the culprit was male.

The 17-year-old bear, identified as JJ4, is suspected of killing Andrea Papi, 26, who was mauled to death while jogging along a mountain path close to his village of Caldes in Trentino on 5 April.

JJ4, considered a “problematic” bear, was swiftly captured and taken to an animal enclosure while a court decides her fate.

The case has pitted Maurizio Fugatti, the president of Trentino province, who wants the bear to be put down, against animal activists, who have been fighting for its release.

Leal, an animal welfare association, said it presented the regional administrative court, which will announce its ruling on 11 May, with two forensic reports that would clear JJ4, who has been separated from her cubs, of the killing.

According to the DNA tests, the teeth marks found on Papi’s body were compatible with an adult male bear and not those of JJ4.

“JJ4 is innocent,” Leal said in a statement.

The association explained that for veterinary science, animal teeth “have the same value as human fingerprints”, and therefore the science “denies the lies told by Fugatti”.

The reports also found that the nature of the attack was “a protracted attempt by the bear to distance and dissuade the victim” and not “a deliberate or predatory attack”.

Police believe Papi, who sustained injuries to his neck, arms and chest, had tried to fight off the bear after a blood-stained branch was found at the scene. Initial tests identified JJ4, who had previously attacked two hikers in 2020, as the killer.

Along with JJ4’s immediate release from the high-security enclosure in Castellar, Leal is demanding the “immediate resignation” of Fugatti.

Fugatti said he would have had the bear “shot during its capture” had it not been for his order to kill it being suspended by the administrative court. “JJ4 will be killed when the court allows it to happen,” he said last week.

Fugatti had also ordered JJ4 to be put down after the 2020 attack against the two hikers but the order was scrapped by the court amid pressure from animal rights group and Sergio Costa, the environment minister at the time. It was then agreed that the bear would instead be fitted with a radio collar. However, the battery for the device ran flat and so JJ4’s location was no longer traceable.

JJ4 was born in Trento after two bears that had been brought to Italy from Slovenia in the early 2000s mated via Life Ursus, a project to reverse the area’s dwindling brown bear population.

There are now about 100 bears in the Trento area, and close encounters with humans are becoming more frequent. A man was attacked by another bear, called MJ5, in the same province in March.

Source: The Guardian

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