A wanted killer bear which mauled a jogger to death and attacked two other people has finally been captured by authorities in Italy.
They have vowed to now put the bear down despite her having three cubs – a decision likely to spark controversy.
Officials announced the capture of Jj4 – or Gaia as she is known – at a press conference on Tuesday and released an image of her in a specially constructed bear trap.
The 17-year-old brown bear was identified as being responsible for the killing of trail runner Andrea Papi, 26, who was disembowelled as he ran into the bear on a mountain near his home.
Following his death earlier this month authorities in the province of Trento, northern Italy, ordered the ‘capture and killing’ of the bear but late last week Jj4 won a stay of execution after a regional court ordered a stay of execution.
They ruled the death warrant could not be carried out until they had been provided with further documentary evidence and postponed any ruling until next month but Trento province resident Maurizio Fugatti insisted, they would still carry out the killing.
Outlining details of how Jj4 was found he told a press conference: ‘We had wanted to kill Jj4 on site where it was found but we couldn’t, however we will still press for her extermination.
‘Jj4 was caught in a specially constructed tube trap at around 11pm on Monday night and I would like to thank all those involved in the hunt for the bear these last ten days.
‘The capture is very satisfying for us, but we remain saddened by what happened.
‘The bear was very aggressive during capture because she had three cubs, two were caught at the same time and a third escaped.
‘The two that were caught weigh around 35-40 kilos and are two years old.’
An order to kill Jj4 had been given in 2020 after she attacked a father and son but this was overturned and Mr Fugatti added: ‘We had wanted to give this news three years ago but we couldn’t.
‘As I said earlier, news of the capture fills us with bitterness and sadness.’
Mr Fugatti said officials had provided paperwork to the regional court underlining why the bear should be put down and added:’ We had wanted to kill the bear on site when she was captured but we couldn’t because of the ruling.’
Raffaele de Col, Trento province wildlife chief, described Jj4 as ‘dangerous and aggressive’ during the tracking and capture and revealed she had destroyed several cameras set up to follow her through woods on Mt Peller where she was caught.
He described how ‘three cubs’ were found close to where Jj4 had been caught but said they were ‘self-sufficient and autonomous’.
Mr De Col added: ‘This was not an easy operation because there are several bars in the area and we had to catch the right one plus there were also three cubs present.
‘At the time of capture Jj4 was very aggressive because of the presence of the three cubs but she was sedated in the tube and taken away.’
Mr De Col added he would not reveal the exact location where Jj4 was captured because he wanted to avoid endangering the three cubs but said she had been ‘caught well away from inhabited areas in woods on Mt Peller.’
He went on: ‘Jj4 destroyed several camera traps we had set up to try and locate her and she also fled from two tube traps that were laced with fruit, so I just want to say that to underline the aggressivity of the bear.’
The bear was now being kept in a special sanctuary at Casteller near Trento and Mr Fugatti said ‘extra security’ had been put in place around the site as well as the provincial office in case of protest from animal campaigners.
Jj4 was identified from DNA found at the scene of Andrea’s death which included his running kit and a stick he had used to defend himself.
Officials said around 100 bears live on the slopes of forest around Mt Peller and that two other bears were also considered dangerous and being actively tracked.
Wildlife campaign group LAV have asked for Jj4 to be given to them so they can look after it and were behind the campaign to get the ‘track and kill’ order overturned.
Andrea’s family have also said they are against the culling of the bear saying he ‘loved wildlife’ and that ‘skilling the bear’ won’t bring him back.
In a post on Twitter, alongside a picture of Jj4 in the tube, LAV said: ‘Jj4 caught and separated from her cubs.
‘Maurizio Fugatti wants to kill at all costs, even the family of Andrea Papi don’t want her to die. We will be verifying the condition of the bear and will meet officials to block her killing.’
Andrea’s death was the first of its kind from a bear attack in Italy.
This article by Nick Pisa was first published by The Daily Mail on 18 April 2023. Lead Image: (Getty Images / LuCaAr).
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