Wildlife rangers have shot dead Switzerland’s only bear because authorities feared it posed a threat to humans.
It was a male bear, known only as M13, and he had lived in the Graubuenden mountain region of eastern Switzerland, on the border with Italy, Agence France-Press reported. Springs were spent in the Val Poschiavo. AFP reported that the two-year-old bear had begun foraging for food in inhabited areas and sometimes followed people.
“In November 2012, the bear had already been considered problematic and placed on a behaviour-watch list, a step away from a cull order,” the news wire said. “Before deciding they must kill the bear, Swiss rangers had attempted to increase its wariness of humans by firing rubber pellets and firecrackers.”
But that didn’t work, and the bear, the last survivor of three cubs—his brothers had been hit by cars in Italy—was shot by wildlife rangers on February 19, a spokesman for the Swiss government’s Federal Office for the Environment Adrian Aeschlimann told AFP.
“Both in the autumn and now after waking from his winter sleep, the bear kept looking for food in villages, had followed people in broad daylight and—despite repeated measures to scare him off—showed absolutely no fear of humans,” said a statement from Switzerland’s Federal Office for the Environment, quoted by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation.
“He was classified as a risk to human safety. Under Switzerland’s ‘bear plan’ it became inevitable that he would be shot.”
The bear had allegedly awakened about 10 days before the shooting, followed two hikers into a village, and then ambled down the town’s main drag, the Swiss authorities told the broadcasting network. M13 was a cross-border bear, and there are 30 or 40 bears in Italy right next door, authorities said.
European nations are slowly losing their bears. In the Spanish Pyrenees, the last female brown bear died in 2010, the Telegraph reported in October of that year. The endangered species Urus arctos, the European brown bear, was down to about 20 in the Pyrenees, the Telegraph reported. France has halted its 20-year-long attempt to repopulate the mountain range with brown bears, the newspaper said, in light of shepherd complaints of livestock attacks.
Italy’s Trentino region has about 40 bears, Swiss authorities said at a press conference following M13’s slaying, so more could easily cross into Switzerland. M13 was part of that group, the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation said.