Bear that killed jogger in Italy gets another court reprieve

ROME (Reuters) – An Italian court on Friday suspended a ruling that a brown bear should be put down for the mauling to death in April of a 26-year-old man who was jogging in the Alps.

Judges at the Rome administrative court, known as the Council of State, said that while the bear should be kept in captivity for public safety, the cull order was “disproportionate” and unnecessary.

It was another reprieve for the bear known as “JJ4”, whose fate has grabbed media attention since the attack. The head of the province of Trento where the incident took place has pushed for the bear to be destroyed, while animal rights groups have fought for it to be spared.

A definitive decision on the bear is not expected until a further appeal in December.

The area around the northern city of Trento, which was re-populated with bears from 1999 under an EU-funded programme, has seen several bear attacks in recent years, raising questions about how successful cohabitation with the mammals can be achieved.

JJ4, a 17-year-old female, had previously been blamed for attacks on two other people.

Animal rights lobby LAV welcomed Friday’s court’s ruling and said it should secure a safe future for the bear.

“There’s no more reason to delay JJ4’s transfer to a safe and authorized refuge in Romania,” said Massimo Vitturi, a spokesman for LAV, which has found a Romanian refuge and offered to pay for the bear to be taken there.

The Rome judges also saved another bear, MJ5, which has yet to be captured and was also facing a cull order after injuring a man in March.

(Reporting by Marco Carta; Writing by Federica Urso; Editing by Gavin Jones and Frances Kerry)