Skip to comments.Germany's "Problem Bear," Bruno, Is Dead
Posted on 06/26/2006 4:18:34 AM PDT by Kill Osama
Germany's "Problem Bear," Bruno, Is Dead
"Bruno" -- the first wild brown bear to be sighted in Germany in over 170 years -- was shot dead in Bavaria. While he was considered dangerous, wildlife experts say it is time to prepare for the return of more bears.
Bruno the Bear was something of a Houdini. For over two weeks, a special team of Finnish bear-hunters, dogs and wildlife experts had been trying to track down the brown bear. The team apparently spotted him again last week, but before a veterinarian could shoot a dart gun to immobilize the animal, Bruno had run away.
"Laws protecting endangered species prohibit normal hunters from killing the bear," a spokesperson from the Bavarian Environment Ministry told DW-WORLD.DE on Friday.
But over the weekend, the government gave a "shoot to kill" order on Bruno. The bear, whose official name was JJ1, was shot in Rotwand in Bavaria early Monday morning.
Now, an animal rights group has called for a police investigation into the "premature" shooting of the bear. "We are extremely dismayed that Bruno had to die," the Austrian animal rights group Four Paws said in a statement Monday.
"A problem bear"
Bruno had been dodging hunters since May, when he was first spotted in Bavaria, and had since been criss-crossing the alpine border between Germany and Austria. On Friday, Roland Melisch from the World Wildlife Fund in Germany called Bruno "a problem bear."
Search costs to hunt and catch Bruno alive were estimated to have exceeded well over 125,000 euros ($157,000).
Wildlife experts were first overjoyed that a rare species was reviving itself in Germany. But soon after his appearance, Bruno began killing dozens of sheep, ransacking honey farms and venturing into chicken stalls. The owner of one stall just missed coming face-to-face with the brown bear. Bruno was also reported to have walked down the streets of a Bavarian village and sat down to rest in front of a police station.
To kill or not to kill
Opinions were divided about just how dangerous Bruno was. Some animal protection groups believed the bear was harmless to humans. Other bear experts agreed that he could have attack if provoked. Tourists flocking to the Alps to catch a glimpse of the bear were not helping matters, animal experts said.
WWF's Melisch suggested the answer lies not in getting rid of bears, but in education and prevention. "We should be thrilled that the bears want to return to Germany. Most will stay in the woods and avoid settlements. But we need a plan," he said.
Signs can warn people they are entering bear territory. Dogs can help protect sheep. Electric fences can be installed around bee hives, livestock can be put in stables at night, he suggested. "We have to be informed about bears and how to live with them," he said.
The return of the bears
Brown bears -- the only kind in Europe -- were plentiful here 300 years ago, but human expansion and hunting dramatically reduced the population. The last brown bear was killed in Germany in 1835.
In recent years, bears have been moved from Slovenia -- where an estimated 400 to 500 live -- and reintroduced in mountainous areas like the Pyrenees and Central Austria. There are currently around 20 to 30 bears in Austria.
Only when bears in different areas begin "networking" can they optimally mix their genes and multiply properly, wildlife experts say. The European Union is supporting a so-called "LIFE Program" in Austria, Italy and Slovenia that aims to expand the bear population in the Alps.
Many farmers and livestock owners are dismayed, however. They are worried about their livelihood and fear bears could become a nuisance, just like the beavers that were reintroduced in Germany in the 1960s. The dams beavers build often cause the flooding of farm fields.
Still, "beaver managers" are now able to smooth the waters between farmers and animal protection groups. Beaver management programs are also effective, the Zeit newspaper reported. Furthermore, a fund exists to reimburse farmers for damages caused by beavers.
Bruno's days were numbered
While the Soccer World Cup has been enthralling most Germans for weeks, the one-bear-show Bruno also received his share of the media limelight. One teddy bear manufacturer even produced a special edition "Bruno" bear costing 120 euros. Programmers and musicians created a "Hunt Bruno" game and song on the Internet.
North Americans might smirk at so much hype about one bear. After all, their countries have comparatively large bear populations. Bruno-hunters even tapped into that knowledge and had a special bear trap flown in from the US state of Montana to help them nab the bear.
Plenty of people also called the German World Wildlife Fund to offer advice about how to catch Bruno, like using rapeseed oil to lure him. "But you have to know where he is to set up a trap and bait. This bear roams 10 to 15 kilometers (6-9 miles) a night, so we're always lagging behind," Melisch said.
Had Bruno been caught, he likely would have been sent to a wild-animal park near Munich. Now that he has been shot to death, other bears might just think twice about whether they will roam the German-Austrian border.
He was not Welcome in Germany.
"Der Bär war nicht zu Gast bei Freunden."
Yogi is sad.
The best way to bring in a bear is a dozen hot dogs on the grill and several open bags of Doritos.
They should of let the bear live and killed soccer!
"That's correct ma'am...I'm a licensed Beaver Manager."
In Germany anything that is not registered will be shot on site!
I've got plenty bears in my neighborhood. They are welcome to all they can catch. Put out some sunflower seeds and they'll be around shortly.
Our grizzly bear is a subspecies of brown bear. Grizzly bears that rampage about killing livestock and wandering around human habitation are definitely dangerous.
"You must take care of your environment! Der little animals are zo cute! Tink uff der baby seals, you heartless Americans!"
"Karl, der ist a bear eating one uff your sheep!"
"Ach du Lieber! Somebody shoot dat ting!"
Meanwhile, in the deep, dark woods far from the eyes of man...
(Bruno wasn't exactly what you'd call "popular" with the other bears.)
And I, Bruno, will dive 1,000 feet into a block of cement. On my head, yet.
...so who'd they get to do it? I have this mental image of the German version of the hillbillies from "Deliverance"...
Sounds like they need an animal dating service.
True, but a pic-a-nick basket is more portable.
Opinions were divided about just how dangerous Bruno was. Some animal protection groups believed the bear was harmless to humans. Other bear experts agreed that he could have attack if provoked.
This comment,,,, shades of Treadwell , he thought bears were friendly,,, found out differently and killed girlfriend to boot.
I say if above believes them to be harmless, let them board bear
"That's a nice one you got there...do you want it stuffed?"