Nuisance bear destroyed in Graubünden town

A brown bear who came into contact with humans too many times in a Swiss mountain valley was shot dead on Tuesday, officials from the canton of Graubünden said on Wednesday.

Nuisance bear destroyed in Graubünden town
M13 after being tagged last spring. Photo: Canton of Graubünden

The bear, a two-year-old identified as M13, was shot in the Poschiavo area, where it had awoken from its hibernation and come into contact with a 14-year-girl and a pair of Italian tourists.

The girl was taken to hospital and treated for shock after the burly bruin followed her through part of the town near the Italian border.

Wildlife officials determined the bear was a security risk, although the decision was condemned by many environmentalists.

Provisions of Switzerland's bear management plan allow for bears to be destroyed in such cases.

The killing of M13 marks the first time since 2008 that Swiss officials have shot a bear.

In that year, a bear identified as JJ3 was killed after also being judged a nuisance.

M13 had caused problems in the Poschiavo area since the spring of 2012 when it was anesthetized and tagged with a tracking transmitter after preying on a goat.

The bear ended up being injured by a train before being caught dining on sheep in September.

In October, officials were forced to erect an electric fence around a school in Poschiavo after the bear was was discovered eating honey at an aviary outside the building.

Then in November, he broke into a shed next to chalet, where he spent 36 hours.

The bear ate potatoes stored in the hut, as well as stale bread, and destroyed equipment in the building before moving on.

The dramatic encounter with a 14-year-old girl, identified as Emina Piana, on Saturday brought things to a head.

The Poschiavo council demanded action from authorities, who responded.

Culling of bears is a sensitive subject in Switzerland.

Joanna Schoenenberger, bear specialist with environmental group WWF Switzerland, maintained it was not necessary to kill M13.

"There were other solutions than to kill it," she told Le Matin.

"As well, it was not aggressive and posed clearly fewer problems than JJ3, who was killed in 2008 after a lot longer period of observation."

M13 was one of just a handful of bears left in the country, and the only one being tracked in Switzerland.

The animals were hunted to extinction but began to reappear in 2005 after being reintroduced in a Trentino nature park in Italy, not far from the Swiss border.

Since then, a few bears have wandered back and forth across the border.

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Spain’s Alicante aims to limit hiking and ban outdoor sports in iconic nature spots

Environmental authorities in the Spanish region of Valencia want to limit hiking and ban rockclimbing and canyoning in popular retreats in Alicante, Valencia and Castellón provinces to preserve these natural habitats and their local species.

Hiking in Valencia might be banned.
Barranc de l'Infern in Alicante province. Photo: Diana TV/Flickr

The Valencian region’s Climate Emergency Department is planning to establish several Special Conservation Zones in popular natural spots in the eastern region, where climbing and canyoning will be prohibited and hiking will be limited.

If the new rule comes into force, it will affect a large portion of the province of Alicante, including popular retreats in nature such as the Barranc de l’Infern river and its hiking route, Puigcampana and Ponoig, one of the best-known climbing spots in the region.

So far, the project is just a proposal, but it has already angered mountain-sport lovers and businesses throughout the region. 

Canyoning and climbing are considered “incompatible” practices with the preservation of natural habitats, according to the first draft of the new decree.

As well as banning these two popular sports, the new rule proposes that hiking in groups of more than 30 people will have to undergo prior evaluation.

Hiking in Puigcampana, Valencia. Image: NH53 / Flickr

The objective of the Department of Climatic Emergency is to extend this new rule and the creation of the ZECs to all the natural spaces included in the Natura 2000 Network within the Valencian Community.

The regulations of the European Union on these sites imply that they must guarantee the preservation of species of fauna and flora. 

For example, in the Special Conservation Zone (known as a ZEC) de la Marina, the decree states that species such as otter, river crab and Cobitis paludica fish will be protected, while the mountains in the centre of Alicante, it’s Bonelli’s eagle, the trumpeter bullfinch and the eagle owl, which must be protected. 

However, according to sources of Las Provincias news site, the European legislation does not prohibit climbing, canyoning and hiking from being carried out within them.

The new proposal has taken many groups by surprise as they were not told of the new proposal beforehand, and are unaware of what the economic and social implications will be.

The President of the Federation of Sports in the Mountains and Climbing in the Community (Muntanya i Escalada de la Comunitat) Carlos Ferrís, pointed out that “the preservation of the environment does not have to be incompatible with these sports” and said that the limitations are not justified by any scientific report.

Hiking in Ponoig, Valencia. Image: Lisa Risager / Flickr

Pedro Carrasco, manager of CV Activa, an association that brings together companies who target active tourism agreed, when he told Las Provincias: “They would have to do a detailed study of each and every place to assess the conditions. It cannot be based on intuition alone”.

These rural tourism businesses do however agree that there can be some limitations on the practice of these sports, but that they shouldn’t be prohibited year round.

READ ALSO: REVEALED: The most picturesque day trips in Spain’s Alicante province