After a deadly attack: how to deal with bears?

Hunters in northern Italy caught the she-bear JJ4 who killed a jogger, but her fate now is undecided. After a court responded to protests by suspending the orders to shoot her, a decision about whether to carry out the death sentence is due for May 11. Commentators see the case as an opportunity to reflect more generally on human coexistence with wild animals.

Corriere del Ticino (CH) /

Human safety takes precedence

Sometimes there is no alternative but to kill an animal like this, Corriere del Ticino explains:

“Coexistence with large animals of prey is a complex matter. This is something we are seeing in Ticino with the wolves. ... They are very useful animals for the environment because they function as regulators for many species lower down the food chain. But without careful management they can cause great harm or even (fortunately very rarely) cause fatal accidents. ... If, as it rightly states in the regulations, human safety takes precedence over the protection of wild animals, then measures must be taken to guarantee the peaceful coexistence of humans and animals. And sometimes this means that we have to accept that an animal is killed — right now this is the only means we have to maintain a certain balance.”

Giona Carcano
Berliner Zeitung (DE) /

The arrogance of over-hasty death sentences

For the Berliner Zeitung, the case raises fundamental questions about how we deal with animals.

“Why does a case like this immediately have us demanding the ‘death penalty? You never hear such calls regarding the drivers who are responsible for more than 2.500 deaths on Germany’s roads each year. This only happens with animals. ... We must be allowed to reflect on the arrogance of such killings. It is right to catch aggressive animals of prey and to put them down if their is behaviour significantly different from others of their species who are generally shy of people. But the problem with such cases is that they quickly lead to entire species being condemned. It’s the same with animals as with humans: although very few of them do anything that attracts negative attention, as soon as they do, people are very quick to judge.”

Jens Blankennagel
Kurier (AT) /

Yearning for wild animals is naive

The forests must be accessible to all, insists the Kurier:

“Austria is a country of tourism and agriculture. The return of animals of prey in the proximity of residential areas is problematic, even anti-social. Should our recreational areas of woodland be accessible only to landowners and hunters but out of bounds to the public? ... The yearning of some city people for wild animals to roam freely in dark forests overlooks the fact that these animals hunt for prey. Our forefathers used to kill these animals when they came too close to humans. If we don’t want people and animals of prey to cause each other harm, we need distance, not naivety.”

Martina Salomon