Fruit- and vegetable-eating bears from the Marsica woods in the Abruzzi region of Italy are being threatened with extinction. The Marsica forest lies within the boundary of the Abruzzo National Park, in the mountains of central Italy. Shortage of funding has meant a reduction in the number of guards patrolling the park to protect the animals from poachers. The number of bears has dropped to not more than 40 and at least eight have been killed by illegal huntsmen within the last two years.
The bears, which live in the woods, have also had their habitat reduced because the park authorities have permitted the felling of trees in the beech woods. At the same time a subsidy given to local smallholders, of ?35 for every 500 sqm of land under cultivation, has been discontinued. This has meant that the bears, which used to be able to forage the cultivated land, now have to leave the park boundaries in search of food.