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Bear captured in Italy for killing jogger is innocent, new study claims

Italian jogger was killed by male bear, not female, new DNA test claims.

Animal rights activists have called for the immediate release of the female bear accused of killing a jogger in Italy's northern Trento province on 5 April after a new DNA test revealed the man was killed by a male bear.

The forensic report claims that the bite marks on the body of 26-year-old Andrea Papi, who was killed by a bear on Mount Peller near his home in Caldes, are not compatible with the female bear captured by forest rangers on 17 April.

The bear, known as JJ4, was separated from her cubs and is being held in a wildlife facility in Castellar amid an uncertain future, after initial tests concluded that the animal was responsible for killing Papi.

The region's right-wing governor Maurizio Fugatti ordered that the 17-year-old bear be killed however the sentence was suspended by courts following an appeal by animal rights groups.

The new expert study, whose findings were presented by animal welfare association LEAL on Monday, claims that Papi was killed by an adult male bear and not by JJ4.

"The teeth of an animal, for forensic veterinary medicine, have the same value as human fingerprints and therefore science in this report denies the lies told by Fugatti", LEAL wrote on Facebook.

The report also said the nature of the attack could be characterised as being "a protracted attempt by the bear to distance and dissuade the victim", concluding that it could not be classified as either a deliberate or predatory attack.

Claiming that the new study "unmasks the farce artfully constructed by Fugatti", LEAL has demanded the governor's "immediate resignation" along with the release of JJ4.

The development comes amid a heated debate over whether to cull the bears whose population has risen to roughly 100 since the animals were reintroduced to Trentino from Slovenia in 1999 as part of the Life Ursus project.

Fugatti claims the project has "got out of hand" and has repeatedly called for bear numbers to be reduced to "an adequate level" to guarantee a peaceful coexistence with local communities.

Photo La Stampa

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