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The Only Bear In Switzerland Has Been Killed

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First Posted: Feb 20, 2013 02:22 PM EST

Credit:photoverulam / iTechPost

The only wild bear in Switzerland has been killed.

The two-year-old male lived in the Graubuenden region of eastern Switzerland, near the border of Italy.

Authorities shot the bear over fears that it posed a threat to humans.The bear, known as "M13," had become friendly with humans and was accustomed to wandering into inhabited areas and following people while looking for food. The bear was noted as a problem in November 2012 when it was placed on a behavior-watch list, which is a step away from a cull order to kill the bear. Swiss rangers hoped to encourage the bear to be wary of and avoid humans by firing rubber pellets and firecrackers.

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M13 was one of three brothers introduced to the Italy's Trentino Alto Adige region in a program designed to reintroduce bears into the area where hunting had wiped them out long ago. The area around the Italian-Swiss border is sparsely populated; the Italian side has a population of about 30.

"The cull was carried out according to the management plan for bears in Switzerland," Adrian Aeschlimann, a spokesman for the Federal Office for the Environment, told AFP Wednesday, Feb. 20.

"Both in the autumn and now after waking from his winter sleep, the bear kept looking for food in the villages, had followed people in broad daylight and – despite repeated measures to scare him off – showed absolutely no fear of humans," a statement from the office said.

The bear's two brothers, M12 and M14 died last year in Italy after being struck by cars.

The Swiss authorities shot M13 after first consulting Italian wildlife protection authorities, but some have criticized the decision. The World Wildlife Fund claimed M13 was acting normal for a bear waking up from hibernation, and that after searching for food, he would have returned to the mountains.

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