An Italian court has granted a reprieve to a bear who was supposed to be killed for being blamed by a runner’s death.
Park rangers captured the 17-year old female known as JJ4, after DNA evidence connected her to Andrea Papi‘s death on 5 April.
The court in Trento, Italy has postponed the cull at least until the 27th of June following an appeal by environmental groups.
The body of Mr Papi, aged 26, was discovered in the Trentino Alto Adige region.
After he didn’t return from his jog, his worried girlfriend reported him as missing.
A search party found a bloodstained tree branch near his body. This led investigators to believe that he might have used it to fight off the bear.
JJ4 was also implicated in a violent attack in 2020 on a father-and-son hiking in the area.
Local officials stated that the bear should be killed due to its history of attacking people. However, activists said that she should instead be relocated to a reserve in Italy or elsewhere.
Earlier, the family of Mr Papi had also stated that they did not wish to see the bear killed.
In a Friday hearing, the judges decided to delay JJ4’s demise for at least one month in order to give both sides more time to gather evidence.
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The court announced that it would conduct a new hearing in December. Animal rights groups claimed that this meant the animal couldn’t be killed until then. However, officials have not confirmed this.
JJ4 was caught almost two weeks after the death of Mr Papi. She was lured into a trap before being sedated and taken to a detention centre.
The three cubs she had with her were released later, without injury.
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The judges also ordered a suspension similar to that of MJ5, another bear suspect who has not yet been captured.
This bear faces a cull after being accused of attacking a man who was injured in March while walking his dog along a mountain trail.
A programme funded by the EU repopulated the area with bears in 1999, after it was realized that their numbers were rapidly dwindling.
Official figures show that the region was home to around 100 wild black bears by 2021. The numbers have been increasing at a rate of about 10% per year since 2015.
Maurizio Fugatti, the governor of Trentino, is being pressured to reduce the bear population. He said that the area has an “excessive” number of bears.