The female bear Daniza was accidentally killed by the local authorities using a tranquilizer gun. Her two seven-month old cubs are wandering now without her mother through the forests of Trentino.
This bear project URSUS running from 1996 till 2019 amounts to 12 mio Euro through several EU LIFE and other Projects to reintroduce the brown bears into the region. Part of these monies was earmarked for information dissemination on how to behave around bears.
Daniza had two seven-month old bear cubs. Young bears stay with their mothers between two and three years during which time she will breastfeed them at least during the first two years and sometimes even longer. The bear cubs learn from their mother everything including safe food sources, building a den, protecting themselves from predators and the mother bear also cleanses them from parasites. The average mortality rate in the Trentino bear population is 27% with the mothers being present. Everyone realises that the two cubs will have a much lower chance of survival.
Daniza surprised by mushroom picker
Evidence indicate that Daniza and her cubs encountered a hiker a few days earlier. The hiker followed her while she tried to distance herself from him, which she eventually managed. A few days later on the other side of the mountain where the first incident happened a second hiker collecting mushrooms surprised her and her cubs sleeping. Daniza attacked and non-lethally injured him.
Reasons for human/bear encounters
Considering the research results on the 800 incidents of brown bear and human encounters in Scandinavia, bears typically only attack humans in the following six situations:
- if a bear is injured
- if a female bear has cubs and the human approaches the cubs (this was the case here)
- if the bear encounter happens close to a carcass
- if the bear is surprised (was the case here)
- if a bear is in a den or cave
- if dogs are nearb
Daniza behaviour judged as normal
All experts within the regional authorities as well our own Expert Gudrun Pflueger agreed, that Daniza’s behaviour was thus normal and that she should not be classified as a problem bear. Regardless of this assessment, the actions taken against Daniza were in accordance to the rules and recommendations of the Italian protocol for bear management (PACOBACE). The European Wilderness Society just like CIPRA and other NGOs do not agree with this procedure at all, especially since it is deviating from most others international bear management protocols.
Revision of the bear management protocol PACOBACE proposed
The Italian animal rights organization LAV invited the European Wilderness Society to meet with the regional authorities on Thursday for two hours and both proposed a discussion process to modify PACOBACE to align it with international bear management standards. During this meeting Dott. Romano Mase and Dr. Claudio Groff, as well as everyone else present, agreed that a second Daniza incident must be prevented. Their was a general understanding that a multistakeholder series of workshops would be good opportunity to provide additional input to revise PACOBACE to international standards. There was also an agreement that the output of this discussion process should include an information and dissemination strategy to minimise human and wildlife encounters and that another objective, should be the development of an ecotourism strategy focusing on the successful bear programme. Dott. Romano Mase promised to discuss the idea of such a workshop internally and inform us of their decision very soon.