Bear JJ4, mother of three, who attacked human in Italy captured but not (yet) killed

Bear JJ4, mother of three, who attacked human in Italy captured but not (yet) killed
Female brown bear with cubs, photo: Canva

The bear JJ4 responsible for the death of 26-year-old runner Andrea Papi in Italy two weeks ago has been captured, according to a statement from the Trento province. 

Papi’s body was discovered on April 6 in the woods of Peller mountain, where he had gone jogging. Local prosecutors identified the brown bear as the 17-year-old female, JJ4, whose DNA samples matched those taken from the scene of the attack. 

Trento provincial leader Maurizio Fugatti ordered the bear to be killed. JJ4 was with her three cubs when she was caught in a tube trap filled with fruit. She was sedated and brought to a holding center to wait for the final decision on her life. Her three cubs were freed. 

On May 11, judges will decide what will happen to JJ4. “As far as we are concerned, if the court will allow it… we will proceed with the killing,” Fugatti stated during a news conference on Tuesday.

Don’t blame the bear, mother says
The mother of Andrea is obviously broken by the death of her son, but she doesn’t blame the bear. “It’s not the fault of the bear. It’s not the fault of my son. Nature took his life,” she said. “Andrea was such a happy boy. He loved nature. Normally he always had the dog with him, but not this time. Maybe the dog could have provided a distraction.”

Animal rights advocates also oppose killing the bear: they emphasize that the animals usually stay away from people. They added that humans should avoid areas where female bears raise their cubs.

Papi’s death has reignited the debate surrounding human-wildlife conflict in the region. Bears were reintroduced in the area under an EU-funded programme. 

JJ4 is a descendant of two bears brought to Italy from Slovenia decades ago to get more bears to the Italian Alps. Between 1996 and 2004, the animals were released into the area. The population has continued to increase in recent years, and humans and bears come into contact more often.

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