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Bear management plan updated

Brown bears have reappeared in the wild in Switzerland in recent years. In the light of experience the authorities have decided to update their 2006 bear policy.

This content was published on July 8, 2009 - 12:03

The revised "Bear Strategy Switzerland" defines what measures should be taken with problem bears.

The Federal Environment Office plan, in force since 2006, now contains cohabitation guidelines that pay particular attention to rubbish management. Easy access to food from household waste was a key reason that two Swiss bears became dangerously unafraid of humans and had to be killed.

To avoid that, the guidelines say it is necessary to make outdoor bins and containers bear proof and to keep the local inhabitants well informed.

The first new bear to cross into Swiss territory was JJ2 who appeared and then disappeared again in 2005, becoming quite a celebrity in the process. His brother JJ1, another temporary Swiss resident, was killed in Bavaria in 2006.

After several unsuccessful attempts to frighten a third bear, JJ3, who had become a real danger to humans in the region of Lenzerheide in canton Graubünden, authorities made the decision to shoot him in April 2008.

The bear presence in Switzerland is a family affair. Two bears in Italy, Jurka and José, produced four of the five bears known to have entered Switzerland. Jurka, who now lives in captivity in Italy, seems to have passed on her lack of fear of humans.

The fifth bear, MJ4, which was spotted in 2007, is the offspring of José and another female, Maja. MJ4 has managed to stay out of sight since then.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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