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Bear who killed runner in Italian Alps is spared death by court for now

ROME (AP) — A ruling by an administrative court in Italy’s Alpine region on Friday has provisionally spared the life of the bear that fatally attacked a runner last month.

The brown bear, identified as Jj4, was captured on April 18 after an intensive two-week hunt after a 26-year-old local man was killed while running down a mountain trail.

The court panel in the city of Trento asked for more details about the dynamics of the attack by the 17-year-old female bear, suspending an order from local authorities to put the animal to sleep. The suspension will last until June 27. But the fate of the bear may not even be decided yet, as a hearing was scheduled for December 14 to decide on the merits of animal rights lawyers’ proposals to move the bear to a sanctuary – exactly where is unclear – where the animal would pose no danger to humans.

Italy’s ANSA agency also said the court concluded more details from the runner’s autopsy were needed before a decision is made on the bear’s fate.

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Animal rights groups had challenged authorities in the province of Trento to kill the bear.

It was unclear whether Jj4 would have attacked Andrea Papi, who was training, because cubs were nearby. His family has said they are against killing the bear.

The provincial president has argued that Papi’s death could have been prevented if the bear had been euthanized after attacking and injuring two people in 2020.

Jj4’s parents were brought to Italy from Slovenia two decades ago as part of a project funded by the European Union to increase the population of brown bears, then feared to be in danger of extinction. The bear population flourished, with the animals increasingly encountering humans.

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