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Three rare Marsican bears killed in Italy

17/12/2006 00:00:00 October 2007. Three of the world’s rarest bear subspecies, the Marsican brown bear, have been found dead in Italy’s Abruzzo National Park. The dead bears were found in the ‘Acqua Ventilata’ forest, between the towns of Gioia dei Marsi and Pescasseroli, both of which are situated in the Abruzzo National Park.
Marsican bear. ©  Abruzzo Region
One of the bears was known as Bernardo, and was well known for stealing chickens from local farmers. Bernardo was ten years old, and had become very famous in Abruzzo as at night he used to stroll around the villages of the Park. The Mayor of the small village of Gioia Vecchia said, that ‘the tourists came for bear watching.’ Bernardo was the star of the National Park, often filmed and photographed. The ‘Friends of Bernardo’ association paid for all the damages caused by Bernardo during his raid in chicken coops and distributed many chickens to the population. Bernardo was fitter with a radio collar, so when the trackers realized he was no longer moving, park rangers went to look for him. However they did not just find his body, sadly they also found the bodies of a female bear and her cub. It is believed that they had been poisoned, probably by a farmer leaving a poisoned carcass in an effort to protect his flock from wolves. However the local farmers have rejected any accusations that they were involved despite the fact that their stock has recently been attacked. The National Park authorities pay the shepherds for any damages caused by bears and wolves.

The local mayors have said that the most likely explanation is that those responsible are poachers from outside the local community.

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