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Nuisance bear destroyed in Graubünden town

Malcolm Curtis · 20 Feb 2013, 13:45

Published: 20 Feb 2013 13:45 GMT+01:00

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The bear, a two-year-old identified as M13, was shot in the Poschiavo area, where it had awoken from its hibernation and come into contact with a 14-year-girl and a pair of Italian tourists.

The girl was taken to hospital and treated for shock after the burly bruin followed her through part of the town near the Italian border.

Wildlife officials determined the bear was a security risk, although the decision was condemned by many environmentalists.

Provisions of Switzerland's bear management plan allow for bears to be destroyed in such cases.

The killing of M13 marks the first time since 2008 that Swiss officials have shot a bear.

In that year, a bear identified as JJ3 was killed after also being judged a nuisance.

M13 had caused problems in the Poschiavo area since the spring of 2012 when it was anesthetized and tagged with a tracking transmitter after preying on a goat.

The bear ended up being injured by a train before being caught dining on sheep in September.

In October, officials were forced to erect an electric fence around a school in Poschiavo after the bear was was discovered eating honey at an aviary outside the building.

Then in November, he broke into a shed next to chalet, where he spent 36 hours.

The bear ate potatoes stored in the hut, as well as stale bread, and destroyed equipment in the building before moving on.

The dramatic encounter with a 14-year-old girl, identified as Emina Piana, on Saturday brought things to a head.

The Poschiavo council demanded action from authorities, who responded.

Culling of bears is a sensitive subject in Switzerland.

Joanna Schoenenberger, bear specialist with environmental group WWF Switzerland, maintained it was not necessary to kill M13.

Story continues below…

"There were other solutions than to kill it," she told Le Matin.

"As well, it was not aggressive and posed clearly fewer problems than JJ3, who was killed in 2008 after a lot longer period of observation."

M13 was one of just a handful of bears left in the country, and the only one being tracked in Switzerland.

The animals were hunted to extinction but began to reappear in 2005 after being reintroduced in a Trentino nature park in Italy, not far from the Swiss border.

Since then, a few bears have wandered back and forth across the border.

Malcolm Curtis (news@thelocal.ch)

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Your comments about this article

2013-02-20 22:15:01 by dompack
Switzerland is paranoid about bears or wolves and all attempts to introduce a resemblance of natural wildlife have been curbed by their approach kill-first think later. In Canada we live with bears and judging by the description of this article this bear wasn't a nuisance. The bear could have been sedated and relocated in a different area in Italy where it came from as many had suggested.The alps are overpopulated and bears are opportunistic creatures, so what if it goes rummaging from garbage? you just need to find a new paradigm to live sustainably with each other. The opportunity to have these majestic animals as they once were in the alps should be of more value than collective hysteria. Shame on you Swiss authorities.
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