The sad story of a killed bear brings mobile electric fences to the Central Apennines

September 29, 2014

A young male Apennine brown bear was found shot dead in mid-September, just outside the village of Pettorano sul Gizio. After a few days of investigation, the culprit was found and he confessed that he had deliberately shot the bear as it kept on visiting his chicken pen. This sad story can surely teach us a lesson…

Marsican / Abruzzo brown bear (Ursus arctos marsicanus) adult in spring mountain meadow. Critically endangered subspecies. Central Apennines, Abruzzo, Italy. May 2012
Marsican / Abruzzo brown bear (Ursus arctos marsicanus) adult in spring mountain meadow. Critically endangered subspecies. Central Apennines, Abruzzo, Italy. May 2012

The death of this one bear of course represents a big loss for the tiny population of only fifty bears surviving in the Central Apennines, at the very heart of Italy. It is also very sad news for all who fight for the conservation of this unique subspecies of brown bear, to see their efforts hit by somebody’s impulsive act.

However, what makes this case more remarkable and asking for instant action is the location where it took place. The Monte Genzana-Alto Gizio Nature Reserve area is in fact a true natural corridor for wildlife moving between the Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise National Park (PNALM) and the Majella National Park, two of the most important protected areas in Italy. Allowing the Apennine brown bear to extend its range beyond the borders of the PNALM is one of the main goals, if not THE GOAL to secure its future.

The village of Pettorano sul Gizio, Central Apennines
The village of Pettorano sul Gizio, Central Apennines

After many years of just occasional observations, now three bears seem to permanently roam the area of Monte Genzana and Pettorano and “paying visits” to several of the many farms of the village, thus keeping the team of nature reserve rangers constantly on the alert in terms of wildlife monitoring, damage prevention and communication with the local communities. Their restless and commendable work could have seemed spoiled by the killing of this bear, but this case should rather be seen as a single, deliberate act by one individual person and not as a response from a community, which instead seems intent to tolerate and also to learn how to live together with these, at times a bit cumbersome, new “neighbours”…

This important work of education and conservation carried on by the Monte Genzana Nature Reserve team needs to go on and develop further and that is why Rewilding Apennines, the Italian partner of Rewilding Europe, with generous support from the Fondation Segré is now providing the nature reserve with two dozen sets of new, mobile electric fences. These shall be given free of charge to the local farmers, to help them protect their orchards, gardens, pens and sheds from the wildlife and thus prevent trouble and acts of retaliation.

Large wildlife species, such as bears, wolves and red deer are crucially important parts of the Apennine ecosystem and also a true boost for ecotourism and local wildlife watching business development.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.