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Italy: Bear cubs seen together one week after mother shot dead

Park gives update on welfare of bear cubs.

Two rare Marsican bear cubs orphaned after their mother Amarena was shot dead in Italy's central Abruzzo region were seen together on Friday night, amid ongoing concerns about their fate.

A short video clip of the two cubs, aged around seven months, was shared on the Facebook page of the National Park of Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise (PNALM) whose authorities have been monitoring the animals since their mother was killed just over a week ago.

Initially the park had tried to capture the cubs, to save them from predators, however after numerous failed attempts and the fact that they have proven to be self-sufficient it was decided to leave the young animals in the wild and trust in their survival instincts.

Park authorities are not overly-optimisitic about the future of the cubs, which are not fitted with radio collars, noting: "It won't be easy but we are counting on the vitality they have shown so far."

Marsican bears are a critically endangered sub-species of the Eurasian brown bear and there are only about 60 of the animals left in existence.

Amarena and her cubs were often seen rambling around local villages, with the last video of the family together made in San Benedetto dei Marsi just a few days before the mother bear was shot dead in the same area.

Park officials are asking people to "give up any idea of going to see how and where the cubs are and not to hinder the monitoring operations in any way" and request that motorists "proceed at LOW speeds along all roads".

In the event of a chance sighting, authorities say: "Do not attempt to approach the cubs for any reason but promptly report the location to the Park Surveillance Service (tel. 0863/9113241) or to the Carabinieri (tel. 112)."

The park says that the monitoring is "continuous and constant" but stresses that the territory is vast so not to expect daily updates about the cubs, concluding its message: "We are all very worried about their fate, us a little more..."

The killing of Amarena provoked outrage in Italy and the man accused of pulling the trigger was placed under police protection due to death threats.

Amarena and her cubs. Photo Valerio Minato.

Named after her fondness of cherries, Amarena was a beloved symbol of Abruzzo and a "confident but completely peaceful" creature, according to WWF Italia.

Amarena gave birth to several litters during her roughly nine-year life: the two cubs born earlier this year and four cubs born in 2020, including the biscuit-loving Juan Carrito killed after being hit by a car in January.

A rally by environmental and animal rights associations in memory of Amarena and in defence of Italian wildlife is scheduled in Pescina (L'Aquila) on Sunday 10 September.

For official updates on the bear cubs see the PNALM website.

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