Female bear JJ4, mother of three, gets to live a little longer

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

An Italian court has suspended the order to kill the female bear JJ4, who was blamed for killing a runner in the Italian Alps. The 26-year-old runner, Andrea Papi, was attacked on April 5, which reignited a debate in Italy about the coexistence of humans and wildlife.

As part of an EU-funded program, bears were reintroduced in the area in 1999, but as bear numbers have increased, humans are struggling to co-exist with them.

JJ4 is a 17-year-old mother of three who has been separated from her children since park rangers captured her after her supposed involvement in the attack. Animal welfare organization Leal demanded the release of JJ4 as that forensic reports suggested a male bear -JJ4 is female- was responsible for the death of Papi.

The local provincial government advocated for the bear to be killed due to her history of attacking humans. However, environmental and animal rights groups objected and appealed against the decision.

The Trento administrative court sided partially with the environmental and animal rights groups, freezing the kill order until June 27 to allow for the submission of additional evidence. The groups have been asked to expand upon their suggestion of moving the bear to a reserve within Italy or abroad as an alternative to killing her.

The court also suspended a similar order for another bear, MJ5, who is believed to have injured a man in March and is yet to be captured.

Data from the local government shows that the Trentino region had around 100 wild bears in 2021, with numbers increasing by about 10% per year from 2015. Trentino governor Maurizio Fugatti expressed last month that the optimal number of bears would be around 50.

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