Bears came to eat cherries in Italian village on border of national park.
The sight of a female Marsican bear with her four cubs, in front of the admiring gaze of a small crowd in an Abruzzo village, has been immortalised in a photograph by zoologist Paolo Forconi, who has observed bears for many years.
The image was captured late in the evening on 3 July near the public park of Villalago, a small village which borders onto the vast Parco Nazionale d'Abruzzo Lazio e Molise, reports Italian newspaper La Repubblica.
"Already in the late afternoon we had seen the bear on the mountainside, eating cherries" - Forconi told La Repubblica - "Then she went down with her cubs to bathe in Lake Pio, in the public gardens of Villalago, and stopped to eat other cherries from a tree right on the roadside. When she saw us she looked at us, as did the little ones, she seemed almost undecided about what to do."
The mother bear already made headlines at the end of May when the national park announced the news of the birth of the four cubs, a very rare event.
In recent days there have been increasing sightings of the bear family - Forconi told La Repubblica - with the animals getting nearer and nearer the village after eating all the wild cherries in the mountainside.
However he says that local residents have no fear: "The Marsican bear is a peaceful animal, if it is disturbed or chased it runs away or at best makes the 'false attack' running towards the person, making noise and causing a big fright but without even touching the person," adding that: "We must keep a distance of respect however, without disturbing them."
The Marsican brown bear, a subspecies of the brown bear, is critically endangered, with only about 50-60 of the animals left in existence, compared to 100 in 1980.
Photo Paolo Forconi
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Italy: Mamma bear and four cubs eat cherries in Abruzzo village
67030 Villalago, Province of L'Aquila, Italy