Ten days after a bear killed a 26-year-old jogger, mayors in the Val di Sole valley in northern Italy's Trentino region are threatening to resign. The politicians are protesting against the decision of the administrative court in Trento. Last week, this had granted the appeal of two animal protection associations and suspended the shooting of the "problem bear" until May 11th. Then the fate of the female bear is to be decided at a court hearing. The Trentino governor Maurizio Fugatti had previously given the order to shoot it down.
The mayors are not satisfied with the court decision. "The task of every mayor is to guarantee the safety of the citizens, but if decisions are made at the supra-municipal level that prevent me from carrying out my task, then what is the point of continuing to be mayor," says the head of the Municipality of Ruffre, Donato Seppi, according to a report in the daily newspaper "Alto Adige". According to Governor Maurizio Fugatti, people in Val di Sole are concerned. He spoke of a total of three "problem bears" that should be shot down "if the state allows us to."
He and his colleagues are demanding that the problem of coexistence with large carnivores be solved. The deadly incident in northern Italy has once again fueled the debate about the coexistence of wildlife and humans. The Trentino governor has long wanted to massively reduce the bear population, for example through mass transfers to other areas. Most recently, Fugatti spoke of halving the number of bears and was criticized for this by animal protection associations.
They welcome the court decision as "rescuing" the female bear by May 11 and advocate raising public awareness of wild animals or setting up wildlife corridors. Fugatti meanwhile announced that the search for the animal would continue. The area is guarded by the Trentino forestry corps, and tube traps have also been set up. In addition, the province will appeal the court decision in order to be able to kill the bear.
In an interview with the Italian newspaper "La Stampa", the extreme mountaineer and author Reinhold Messner described bears and wolves as a "problem for farmers, breeders, residents and tourists". He is also in favor of halving the bear population in the region. The killing of aggressive animals is a means. At the same time, he calls for clear legislation at EU level. It is unacceptable to intervene only after a predator has killed. The Alps are not only inhabited by wild animals, so the problem must be solved in the interests of public safety.
The incident in northern Italy also revives a German debate. In an interview with "Merkur", Bavaria's Deputy Prime Minister Hubert Aiwanger (Free Voters) advocates hunting the wolf. He described the bear attack in Trentino as "the result of ideal world ideologies from the big city, which see the rural area as a playground".
The female bear that attacked and killed 26-year-old Andrea Papi on April 5 in the Trentino municipality of Caldes was due to be killed as early as 2020. At that time she had attacked a father and his son on Mount Peller. At that time, too, the court ruled in favor of the bear. She was fitted with a radio collar, which is currently not working and is not transmitting any movement data. A DNA comparison showed that the animal was the sister of the "problem bear" Bruno, who was shot dead in Bavaria in 2006.
The parents of the two bears were brought to Italy from Slovenia between 2000 and 2001 as part of the EU project "Life Ursus". From there Bruno emigrated to Bavaria, where he killed sheep and plundered beehives and rabbit hutches. He owed his name as a "problem bear" to the then Bavarian Prime Minister Edmund Stoiber.
According to the province, there have been around 100 bears in Trentino since the "Life Ursus" project - twice as many as originally planned.
Sources: ORF. at, "Der Standard", "Tiroler Tageszeitung", Merkur, with material from DPA.