The Italian Almanac

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Italian News - May 26

Italy vowed on Wednesday to save a brown bear which has strayed over the national border and now risks being shot dead by German hunters. The bear, which has allegedly killed seven Bavarian sheep and broken into a henhouse, is believed to come from the Adamello-Brenta park in northern Italy. Bavarian environment chief Werner Schnappauf gave a green light for the animal to be killed on Monday, saying it was a threat because it seemed to have developed a taste for fresh meat.

The move has shocked animal lovers in Italy and on Wednesday Environment Minister Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio said he had instructed a top ministry official to "save the bear". He said he had contacted provincial authorities with a view to getting the bear back onto Italian soil. He gave no details about how this was to be done.

The brown bear appears to have wandered about 80 km from its home, passing through Austria and into the Oberammagau area of Bavaria late last week. German experts were initially excited, announcing that it was the first wild bear seen in the country for about 170 years. But then farmers began to report the bear's alleged attacks on livestock.

Wild bears roam free in two of Italy's national parks. One of them - the Adamello-Brenta park - specially imported 10 bears from Slovenia a few years ago. The bear which has recently appeared in Bavaria is thought to be the offspring of one of the imported Slovenian bears.

The German readiness to kill the brown bear has shocked many in Italy, where experts noted that bears never attack humans unless they are cornered.