An Italian provincial governor has defended the killing of a rare female brown bear in the Alps, stating it was a threat to humans.
The bear, called Kj2, was shot dead by foresters on 12 August, after it seriously mauled an elderly man walking his dog last month.
Trentino governor Ugo Rossi said the killing would not stop a project to reintroduce bears to the region, but their habitat must be restricted.
Around 50 bears live in the province.
Conservation groups have protested over the shooting and demanded better management of the EU-funded bear project, called Life Ursus.
Rossi said the shooting was “an absolute necessity” due to the risk to people at a peak period for tourism.
“Anywhere in the world, when the danger rises above a certain level, the animal has to be killed to ensure people’s safety,” he said.
Brown bears from Slovenia started to be reintroduced to Trentino in 1999, a region where they had been exterminated by hunters.
Rossi said Life Ursus would continue, but the initial plan to allow the bears to roam widely would have to be revised.
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Italy said ‘bears must not pay the price for human errors’ – and indicated that too many dogs had been let off the lead in the Alpine forests where the bears were roaming.
The organisation urged the authorities to ‘work to eliminate the causes of such unpleasant episodes’.