The authorities in the south-eastern canton of Graubünden want to increase border surveillance to keep out unwelcome visitors – young bears, two of whom are currently moving freely to and fro between Switzerland, Italy and Austria.
Mario Cavigelli, the cantonal minister for building, transport and forestry, told the Südostschweiz newspaper on Wednesday that the bears would be better off staying in the Trentino-South Tyrol area of Italy where they were born, since there are fewer people there.
However, although the most famous bear, officially known as M13 and nicknamed “Inspector Bear”, has been sighted in inhabited areas, there is no question of shooting him, Cavigelli said.
M13 has also been showing unhealthy curiosity about traffic – despite the fact that his brother M14 was killed by a car in Italy recently. Towards the end of April he was photographed trying to climb over a safety barrier onto a road, and on Monday evening he was hit by a train in the Engadine region.
The 120-kilo animal received quite a heavy blow, but is showing no signs of external injuries or fractures, Georg Brosi, head of the Graubünden cantonal hunting office told Südostschweiz. Nor was there any trace of blood on the tracks.
Rangers established his condition on Tuesday morning, but were unable to see him again in the evening, because he was hiding in the bushes.
“The bear has to recover by himself,” said Brosi, adding that there were no plans to anaesthetise him in order to examine him.
His whereabouts are now being monitored by GPS. He was fitted with a tracking device after he killed a goat.
He earned his nickname at the end of April when his antics led Austrian police to discover the corpse of a murder victim. The bear had started a fire by knocking a tree onto a power line. When police came to the area they stumbled across the body which turned out to be that of a man with a criminal record.
Meanwhile another bear, thought to be M13’s brother, M12, has pre-empted border surveillance and been sighted in the area of the Pass dal Fuorn close to the south-eastern tip of Switzerland, about five kilometres from the frontier with Italy.