A female bear that was sentenced to death for the fatal mauling of jogger in Italy has been given a stay of execution until May 11, officials in Trento have said.
Andrea Papi, 26, was attacked and killed last week while jogging in a public nature reserve in the Trentino–Alto Adige region of northern Italy.
An ordinance signed by the tribunal of Trento was in response to a complaint filed by several wildlife protection agencies who petitioned the court to protect the 17-year-old bear named JJ4 by Italy’s National Institute of Wild Fauna, but more commonly known as Gaia.
A statement on the Anti-Vivisezione website (anti-medical testing of animals) said that they petitioned the court to protect JJ4 because the order to cull was “an action that appeared more like a gesture of revenge against the bear than an effective search for everyone’s safety in a peaceful and informed coexistence.” JJ4 had recently given birth and experts say her aggressive act may have been linked to a perceived threat against her cubs.
The Trento governor Maurizio Fugatti signed the order to cull JJ4 on April 12, after the bear was positively identified as the assailant through DNA matching of fecal matter and other bodily fluids left near Papi’s body, which was found on a public trail on April 6, a day after his family reported him missing. Fugatti now has until May 11 to appeal the decision.
JJ4 is officially named after her parental bears that were brought to Italy from Slovenia as part of the European Union-funded Life Ursus project to reintroduce bears into the Trentino between 1996 and 2004.
In the last 15 years, several bear attacks have been reported, including the nearly fatal attack of a mushroom farmer in 2014 and the 2020 attack of a father and his son while they were hiking.
JJ4 was previously sentenced to be euthanized after it attacked a different father and son in 2020, but a court gave the bear a stay of execution and instead attached a GPS monitoring device which is transmitted to a database published on the provincial website, however the battery died a few days before the attack on Papi.
This time, after the fatal attack on Papi the World Wildlife Fund, which had previously petitioned to keep JJ4 alive told CNN they agree that the bear should be put down. Fugatti’s office also said that the the Life Ursus program had “become unsustainable” since the original plan to reintroduce 50 bears into the region has produced more than 100 bears. There are now four bears, including JJ4, with judicial orders to be culled.