Friends of Bruno want German minister's head

27th June 2006, Comments 0 comments

27 June 2006, MUNICH - Self-proclaimed friends of Bruno the bear demanded Tuesday the prosecution of his killers as well as the resignation of the German minister who oversaw the hunt for the rogue animal.

27 June 2006

MUNICH - Self-proclaimed friends of Bruno the bear demanded Tuesday the prosecution of his killers as well as the resignation of the German minister who oversaw the hunt for the rogue animal.

Bruno was shot at dawn Monday by hunters after officials said the risk was too high that it would kill a human if its escape was cut off during its frequent forays into Bavarian farms and small towns.

The wheels of justice were already turning Tuesday, with genetic tests under way to establish that the carcass was truly that of Bruno, official name JJ1, a 2-year-old bear born in the Italian Alps which tramped through Austria and arrived in Germany in May.

JJ1 is to be stuffed and placed in Munich's Nymphenburg Castle, next to the last bear to roam Bavaria, an animal shot in 1835.

Prosecutors said they had received nine complaints alleging a crime against Bruno by the hunters, whose identity has been withheld, or by the state government. It would take about three weeks to collect the facts and decide if a formal inquiry was justified.

During a month of non-stop media coverage, Bruno constantly dodged hunters as it scavenged for food in fields and gardens, and imprinted images of liberty and revolution in the psyche of urban Germans.

Bruno's supporters began selling T-shirts Tuesday that compared the bear to Argentine-born Marxist Che Guevara, dubbing JJ1 "JJ Guevara". A web eulogy compared Bruno to India's independence hero, describing the animal as the "Mahatma Gandhi of the Bavarian Woods."

Bavaria's most famous teddy bear manufacturer, the Margarete Steiff company, is to make a limited edition of 2,000 Brunos with a black mourning ribbon round the neck, a marketing firm announced.

Bavarian Environment Minister Werner Schnappauf rejected demands by animal-rights activists that he resign. Speaking from the Chinese city of Shanghai were he was opening an environmental trade fair, he described the outcry as absurd.

He said the shoot-to-kill order had been one of his most difficult. "Whatever I did, I would have been criticized for," he said. "If the bear had killed a child, my opponents would have said I had ignored the advice of all my experts that it was dangerous."

Schnappauf said he and his family had received murder threats even before the animal was shot.

"It's fine to love animals, but to threaten to kill someone because of a dangerous bear is completely disproportionate," he said.

"Another bear will move in for sure. I just hope it behaves in a normal way." He said Bavaria would draft a bear-management policy.

It was tolerable if a wild bear killed a couple of sheep, but not if it mauled dozens of sheep within a few weeks as JJ1 did.

In Austria, the premier of Tyrol province, Herwig van Staa, said people appeared to have "humanized" the bear. He estimated there were 30,000 to 40,000 bears on the European continent and that hunters bagged about 4,000 a year, so they were not a threatened species.

DPA

Subject: German news

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