Swiss mountain town seeks bear’s removal

Malcolm Curtis/The Local/AFP
Malcolm Curtis/The Local/AFP - [email protected] • 19 Feb, 2013 Updated Tue 19 Feb 2013 22:25 CEST
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The municipal council of Poschiavo in the canton of Graubünden wants the federal and cantonal authorities to move a nuisance bear into a national park — and away from people.

The bear in question — identified as M13 — interrupted his hibernation for a second time over the weekend when he frightened the wits out of a 14-year-old girl in the mountain community near the Italian border.

“He was only 10 metres from me,” the girl, identified as Emina Piana, told the local newspaper Il Bernina.

“I was super scared,” the girl said.

“I backed away from him slowly but he followed me.”

When she felt it safe to do so she ran to her home where she fainted.

Her worried parents sent the girl to hospital, where she was treated for shock.

Now, Piana is afraid to leave her home alone.

M13, meanwhile, also approached two tourists and wildlife officials are concerned because the brown bear appears to have no fear of humans.

After going into hibernation in mid-November, the animal was reported strolling around the Poschiavo region for several hours on February 9th before returning to his winter lair.

This follows various incidents involving M13 in residential neighbourhoods last year before he went into hibernation.

The bear broke into a shed next to a chalet in early November.

The animal reportedly ate potatoes and stale bread, and knocked over equipment while spending 36 hours in the hut, homeowner Fedele Forer told Blick shortly afterward.
The bear has caused problems since last spring when he was anesthetized and tagged with a tracking transmitter after preying on a goat.

In September, the bear was caught eating sheep.

A month later the bear was discovered slurping down honey at an aviary outside a school.

“He no longer has respect for people,” said hunting inspector George Brosi, who is concerned about the bear’s behaviour.

“We are now in contact with the federal office of the environment to monitor the situation.”

The Poschiavo municipal council said it has been working with the office, the nearby town of Brusio, cantonal authorities and nature groups, such as Pro Natura and WWF Switzerland, on a plan to deal with the bear and others in the future.

The “Swiss philosophy of bear management needs to be more flexible to take greater account of the needs of the population affected by the presence of large predators,” the council said in a statement.

Bears remain an uncommon sight in Switzerland.

After being hunted to extinction, brown bears began to make a comeback in the country after they were reintroduced in a Trentino nature park in Italy.

Since 2005 there have been sightings of a handful of bears crossing the border into Switzerland.

In 2008, wildlife officials shot a bear identified as JJ3 in Graubünden after it was identified as a nuisance to humans.



Malcolm Curtis/The Local/AFP 2013/02/19 22:25

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