Italian court rules not to kill bear JJ4 but she’s still in captivity

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 put a halt to the controversial execution of a brown bear, who according to animal welfare organization Leal has been falsely accused of fatally attacking a jogger in the Alps. The bear was captured in April.

The bear, a 17-year-old female identified as JJ4, was caught following the death of 26-year-old Andrea Papi near his village of Caldes on April 5th.

The brown bear was captured while she was with her three cubs and has been in captivity ever since. What happened to her three cubs is unknown; they will probably never see their mother again since the bear will eventually either be euthanized or moved to a different location.

The Rome administrative court ruled on Friday that the bear should be kept in captivity for public safety. However, it suspended the order for her execution, describing it as “disproportionate” and unnecessary.

The bear’s fate has been a topic of national conversation since the fatal encounter. The provincial leader of Trento, where the attack happened, wants the bear to be killed, while animal rights groups have strongly rallied for her to be spared. A conclusive decision regarding the bear’s future is expected during an additional appeal scheduled for December.

The Trento region, which underwent a bear repopulation program funded by the EU in 1999, has experienced several bear attacks recently. These incidents have led to discussions about the possibility of peaceful coexistence between humans and bears.

Animal rights organization LAV celebrated Friday’s court ruling and voiced optimism that it will lead to a secure future for bear JJ4. “There is no more reason to delay JJ4’s transfer to a safe and authorized refuge in Romania,” stated Massimo Vitturi, a spokesperson for LAV. The group has found a suitable refuge in Romania and has volunteered to cover the costs of relocating the bear.

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