Outcry as celebrity bear Bruno killed in Bavaria

26th June 2006, Comments 0 comments

26 June 2006, MUNICH - Hunters killed Bruno, a rogue brown bear that had become a celebrity in Germany, at dawn Monday on the Bavarian side of the Alps, provoking a storm of outrage among German animal lovers.

26 June 2006

MUNICH - Hunters killed Bruno, a rogue brown bear that had become a celebrity in Germany, at dawn Monday on the Bavarian side of the Alps, provoking a storm of outrage among German animal lovers.

Spiteful e-mails and phone calls poured into the office of the Bavarian Hunting Association as the news spread. Spokesman Thomas Schreder said some had threatened revenge. The association and the government refused to identify the hunter who pulled the trigger.

Code-named JJ1, the animal was the first wild bear killed in Bavaria since 1835. Otmar Bernhard, state secretary for the environment in Bavaria state, said Monday that JJ1 would be stuffed and displayed in a Munich museum, next to the 1835 trophy.

JJ1 was the offspring of bears released under an acclimatization programme in Trentino, Italy. It tramped up to Bavaria, where it was welcomed with non-stop news coverage as it raided backyards and mauled sheep just about every night.

The media nicknamed it Bruno.

Bavarian government officials declared open season on the bear at midnight Sunday after a costly, month-long campaign to trap the animal or fell it with a tranquilliser dart failed.

The Bavarian Environment Ministry said hunters shot JJ1 near a lake, Spitzingsee, below the Rotwand mountain in the state's Miesbach county after the bear walked past a restaurant there in the night.

Miesbach officials rapidly organized a hunting party of three, locals said. Officials said neither professional hunters nor foresters shot JJ1.

One local rumour had it that the shooter was an officer from a nearby police training school.

Many Germans had fallen in love with their first wild bear for 170 years. Unaccustomed to the speed or ferocity of bears, tourists flocked to the German-Austrian border hoping for a glimpse of Bruno.

Manfred Woelfl, the Bavarian government's bear-affairs expert, said three curious trekkers who trailed Bruno on Sunday till it turned and gave them a warning look were lucky to be alive.

"Following a bear is like bungee-jumping without a rope," said Woelfl, who indicated Monday that a new bear would be welcome if it just stayed in the woods and fed on berries and wild honey.

Germany and Austria shared the cost of a vain two-week effort to capture JJ1 alive by shooting it with a drug-tipped dart. But JJ1 escaped the team with a pack of bear-hunting dogs from Finland every time.

While the nature group WWF approved the killing after the alternative had failed, a more radical group, the German Nature Protection Ring, voiced fury. Its president, Hubert Weinzierl, claimed other nations would co-exist in peace with a bear like JJ1.

Juergen Vocke, head of the hunters' association, said he was sorry the bear had to be shot, "but we are happy that nobody got hurt."

Woelfl told a news conference the animal had lacked a fear of humans: "I wish it could have learned to behave like a normal bear."

An Austrian official said the outcry was hardly justified, as there were another 3,000 bears left in Europe.

The European brown bear is the same species as the North American grizzly, though European bears are generally smaller.

DPA

Subject: German news

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