Bavarian hunters finally shoot Bruno the bear

BRUNO the wandering brown bear, who became a celebrity because of his exploits across the Alps, has been shot and killed.

Despite being the first wild bear to enter Germany since the 19th century, Bruno had angered many farmers by killing livestock.

Bavaria’s environment ministry said the bear was killed at 4.50am near the town of Zell.

“The shooting has happened, the bear is dead,” said Manfred Woelfl, Bavaria’s government bear specialist. The bear, a fugitive from Italy named JJ1, but dubbed Bruno by German media, rambled into Germany last month, becoming the first wild bear seen there since 1835.

“We are sorry. We know this is an unpopular decision, but Germany is not the right environment for free-roaming bears,” said Otmar Bernhard, Bavaria’s environment chief.

The Bavarian hunting association said it received a flood of hate mail, including threats to shoot the hunter who had killed Bruno. In Austria, the animal rights group, Four Paws, denounced the shooting and said it was a shame efforts to capture the bear alive failed.

“We are extremely dismayed that Bruno had to die,” the group said in a statement, calling for a police investigation into what it insisted was the bear’s “premature” shooting.

The bear’s travels had held the attention of German media even during wall-to-wall coverage of the World Cup. The bear was part of a programme in northern Italy to reintroduce the animals into the Alps.

The 100-kilo animal had not harmed any humans, but had killed sheep and rabbits and looted beehives of honey. Officials said he was a hazard because he went near homes and appeared to have lost his fear of people.

Austrian authorities on Saturday gave hunters permission to kill the bear if they encountered it. Bavarian officials said they would consider a similar move this week. However, it wasn’t clear whether the shooting had been legally authorised.

Authorities originally proposed permitting the bear to be shot, but backed away after public protest and tried to capture him alive and put him in a nature reserve. But they were unable to catch him.

In the most recent failed attempt, a team of crack Finnish tracking dogs were sent home over the weekend after being unable to corner the bear so he could be shot with a tranquilliser.

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