Third consecutive year of new brown bear cubs in central Italy.
There was good news for the critically endangered Marsican brown bear – the rarest sub-species of bear on the planet – with the arrival of 11 new cubs in 2018 in the Parco Nazionale d'Abruzzo, Lazio e Molise (PNALM), a vast national park comprising 50,000 hectares of protected land in central Italy.
Park authorities said the arrival of the baby bears was extremely positive and that 2018 was the third consecutive year in which the park welcomed 10 to 12 new cubs.
Experts say there are at least four female brown bears in the park with four family units comprising three females with three cubs each and one mother bear with two cubs.
Authorities believe the increased production of beech forestry has contributed to the rise in the bear's population which – they warn – remains critical. There are only about 60 specimens in existence, compared to 100 in 1980.
Between 2007 and 2018, 15 females died, including a mother and her cubs that drowned in an inadequately covered mountain well a few months ago.
The park's president Antonio Carrara believes the Marsican bear will be able to escape the "real risk of extinction if it is possible to increase, even slightly, the survival of adult females.”
Unsurprisingly the main threat to the bears' survival is man, with direct and indirect risks including poaching, poisoning, deforestation, cattle grazing and road accidents.
Also known as the Apennine brown bear (Ursus arctos marsicanus), the animal is the largest land creature in the wild in Italy.