Brown bear targeted as Swiss Alps nuisance

Malcolm Curtis
Malcolm Curtis - [email protected] • 16 Nov, 2012 Updated Fri 16 Nov 2012 10:30 CEST
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A brown bear roaming a mountain region in the canton of Graübunden is being targeted by wildlife officials after outstaying its welcome in residential neighbourhoods.

The bear, identified as M13, broke a window and crawled into a shed next to a chalet near Poschiavo, close to the Italian border.

The burly bruin helped himself to potatoes and stale bread before knocking over equipment and making himself at home.

“M13 has already dug up everything,” homeowner Fedele Forer told the Blick newspaper.

“My water pump is gone, he knocked over my generator and the vacuum cleaner is in tatters,” Forer said.

The bear spent 36 hours in the hut, which may be a “death sentence” for the animal, Blick reports.

Once a bear has become habituated to human surroundings he is regarded as a danger.

Bears are a rare sight in Switzerland so when one hangs around for a while it usually doesn’t escape notice.

Once plentiful in the country, they were hunted to extinction.

But brown bears began making a comeback in 2005 when one wandered over the border from Italy, where they were reintroduced in a Trentino nature park.

Since then a handful have been observed and tracked by wildlife officials.

In April 2008, a bear identified as JJ3 was shot in Graubünden after becoming a danger to humans.

On Friday afternoon, federal, cantonal and Poschiavo officials are meeting to decide whether M13 will meet the same fate.

Other options are to tranquilize the animal and move it to another location.

The bear has been reported causing problems since last spring, when it was anesthetised and tagged with a tracking transmitter after preying on a goat.

In September it was caught eating sheep.

Last month, alarm bells rang when M13 helped himself to honey at an aviary in a Poschiavo school, causing many parents to fear for the safety of their children.

 “He’s not a teddy bear but a dangerous predator,” teacher Franco Compagnoni was quoted as telling the press at the time.

Officials ordered the erection of an electric fence around the school property.

A few weeks later the bear dined on sheep again.

Normally at this time of year, bears are beginning to make preparations for winter hibernation.

M13 may be denied that luxury.

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Malcolm Curtis 2012/11/16 10:30

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