Bear that killed jogger, 26, is captured after 12 day search

A bear has been captured in the Italian Alps 12 days after a 26-year-old was killed while out running.

Andrea Papi’s tragic death in the north-eastern region of Trentino-Alto Adige shocked Italians and led to a huge search for the bear, which was identified as a 17-year-old mother of young cubs.

Papi was killed while jogging above the town of Caldes in the Brenta Dolomites. He was the first Italian known to have been killed by a bear in recent years.

The bear, known as Gaia, had previously attacked and injured a father and son while they were hiking on Mount Pellar in 2020.

The BBC reported that she was with her three cubs when she was captured in a trap filled with fruit after forest rangers had used dogs to track her through snow-covered woodland.

An order for her to be shot on sight was put on hold and the bear, also known as JJ4, was sedated and taken to an animal care centre near the city of Trento.

Her fate is yet to be decided, and provincial governor Maurizio Fugatti told a news conference: “We would have liked to kill the bear on the spot.”

He added that it would be put down if a court agreed at a hearing next month.

The animals are a protected species in Italy, where their numbers have been increasing in recent years after they were reintroduced to the region two decades ago.

JJ4’s parents were taken into northern Italy from Slovenia under a European conservation project.

Mr Fugatti said she had shown signs of aggression before the attack, destroying cameras placed to monitor her movements.

She is being held at the Casteller animal care centre where another bear, M49, is being looked after.

M49 went on the run from a nature park for 10 months and became known as Europe’s most wanted bear when he escaped for a second time in 2020.

Another bear, MJ5, attacked a hiker nearby, prompting the Trentino governor to claim that the issue was now the co-existence of man and animal.

“Those who are now preoccupied with JJ4’s condition are just being ideological,” he said.

Two of JJ4’s cubs were also captured but later released with the head of civil protection in Trentino assuring the public that they posed no risk to humans.

They said the cubs, weighing between 35-45kg (5.5-7st) left the area after their mother was captured.

The Times reported that Papi’s mother has called for Gaia to be spared, saying killing her “will not give me my son back”.

It says animal rights groups have promised to defend the bear using “all available means”.

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