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WWF calls on Italy to save Marsican brown bear

Another female of dwindling species found dead

17 March, 17:37
WWF calls on Italy to save Marsican brown bear (ANSA) - Rome, March 17 - The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Italy on Monday called Environment Minister Gian Luca Galletti to act immediately to save Italy's highly threatened Marsican brown bear, also known as the Apennine brown bear, after a female was found dead recently.

This subspecies of brown bear lives in the Abruzzo National Park, and numbered an estimated 30-40 individuals of 2006.

The death of the female is "another hard blow to any hope of saving this unique animal from extinction," the WWF said in a statement.

"We need our institutions to commit to averting this forewarned extinction with significant, albeit unpopular action," the environmentalist group said.

Saving this bear will mean making its habitat safe from encroaching herds by suspending grazing concessions, cracking down on farmers who deliberately use poison to destroy wildlife in favor of their herds, shutting down some mountain roads and connecting the areas in which the bears roam and hunt, and a vaccination campaign, according to the WWF.

"If tests reveal this female was poisoned, we will need decisive repressive action. If we find she was killed by disease, we will need a radical shift in land management, with ever stricter regulations to contain evermore out-of-control herding by humans," said WWF Italy President Dante Caserta. A young female bear from this dwindling species was run over in the Abruzzo region on October 23.

"We risk losing the only Marsican brown bear population in the world, a key piece of our natural heritage," Caserta said.