A national park in central Italy is investigating the death of a rare brown bear during an operation to capture it. One of the world’s rarest species of bear has become even more endangered after park staff accidentally killed one of the animals.
Biologists at the park in the Apennine mountains in the National Park of Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise had trapped the animal to fit him with a radio collar, and had injected him with an anaesthetic, so they could track his movements. When he started having difficulties breathing, he could not be saved and the rare brown bear dies.
Wildlife officials have described the loss of the animal as “very serious”.
“This is a subspecies in danger of extinction that now counts only 50 individuals or little more,” said WWF Italia, as it called for a review of capture procedures.
The Marsican bear, Ursus arctos marsicanus, lives in the Apennine mountains and forests of central Italy.
Park chiefs are now investigating what went wrong after the anaesthetic was given.
According to Italian media, the young bear was not the intended object of the operation and park staff were trying to capture a different animal.
The other bear, Mario, had wandered into a village at night, and was deemed to pose a risk to its inhabitants.
President of the national park, Antonio Carrara were shocked by the death and he said: “It is the first time we have been faced with an anaesthetic emergency during a capture. For us, the loss of a bear is really serious and we want to find out what happened”.
This is the second time in four years that an Italian bear has died accidentally under sedation. In 2014, a bear named Daniza also died after being anesthetised.