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Monday, April 19, 2021

Italy’s Ever-Shifting Ban on Bears

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State prosecutor Gasparelli outlined the roughly 10 charges against the seven bears captured and imprisoned in a sanctuary run by hunters in northern Italy. They range from various charges of animal cruelty and negligently treating wild animals to violently attacking humans and conducting a military operation against members of the public.

Beyond that, he said, the bears seem too controversial to be freed.

“We need to take them out of the public eye and get rid of them as an issue,” he said. “A large part of the population of the Val di Susa area is against them being released, for security reasons as well as to eliminate other wild animal conflicts.”

Italy’s Minister of the Environment, Dario Franceschini, agreed.

“As a former judge I say that I’m well-aware of animals being fed to the tiger, or dogs and cats being fed to lions,” he said. “But bears deserve a higher status. When I saw these bloodied bears it was surreal. And I was horrified at the lack of animal protection in Val di Susa.

“Obviously I sympathize with them. But this is about protection, not justifying their killings.”

A former commission of advisers to the commission of commissioners, which includes four prominent animal rights activists and others, found in August that the bears were victims of persecution and appeared to have been harmed during the operation.

Franceschini said that in light of the advisers’ complaints, he would introduce a revised protocol to help Italy’s various pest-control agencies investigate cases of bears killing humans.

“Our means of protection are limited,” he said. “The state is required to defend the equal dignity of its citizens and to protect animals.”

The proposed procedure, which has yet to be approved by a government committee, would require them to carry out investigations on a case-by-case basis to assess threats to public safety and to assess whether or not preventive measures may be necessary.

“We can’t kill all bear violence from here,” Franceschini said. “But some kinds of bear violence are justified in extreme circumstances.”

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