The killing of a mother bear in central Italy has sparked outrage among environmental and animal rights groups and politicians. Wildlife experts are searching for her cubs as they are not old enough to survive on their own.
The incident happened near the National Park of Abruzzo. The mother bear, known as Amarena (black cherry), was killed on the outskirts of the town of San Benedetto dei Marsi on Thursday, according to a statement released by the national park on its Facebook page.
Amarena was a Marsican brown bear, also known as the Apennine brown bear. Marsican brown bears are critically endangered with only 50 left in the National Park of Abruzzo.
Police have identified the suspected shooter, a 56-year-old man, who claimed he fired out of fear. Amarena was a beloved bear in the area and was last spotted in a nearby town with her two cubs, a few days before her killing.
In Italy, brown bears are a protected species, and hunting them is against the law. However, conflicts between humans and bears have been on the rise, leading to debates on how to manage the bear population while ensuring the safety of human communities.
Cubs usually stay with their mothers for about two and a half years, learning essential survival skills before venturing out on their own. The shooting of Amarena leaves her cubs vulnerable and at a higher risk of not surviving in the wild.
The shooting of the brown bear Amarena follows a controversial incident in April when a bear killed a 26-year-old runner in northern Italy. This death led to a legal battle between local authorities, who wanted to kill the bear, and animal rights groups, who argued for her protection.