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Rude awakening Bear M13 is on the prowl again



M13 was fitted with his first tracker device last year after killing a goat.

M13 was fitted with his first tracker device last year after killing a goat.

The notorious brown bear known as M13 has woken up from his winter sleep but his New Year resolutions evidently do not include keeping away from human beings, and his behaviour means he may not be allowed to live to sleep through another.

A couple out walking in the eastern canton of Graubünden on Saturday afternoon were alarmed to find the three-year-old bear following them as far as the entrance to the village of Miralago near Poschiavo, the local newspaper Il Grigione Italiano reported on its website.

At that point they were able to get rid of him, but he then alarmed a 14-year-old girl who saw him standing on the other side of the bridge. She was treated in hospital for shock.

He walked through the village as far as the main road, apparently not bothered by the traffic, before turning round and wandering back into the hills, the paper said. 

Gamekeepers came to measure his tracks and fire shots to frighten him away.

Last year M13 made headlines on several occasions, most notably when he was hit by a train in the Engadine region. He was also in the news when his antics – he had started a fire by knocking a tree onto a power line – by chance led Austrian police to the corpse of a murder victim.

In October he destroyed beehives belonging to the school in Poschiavo. The following month he twice broke into a holiday house while its owner was away, by smashing a glass door. He ate a large quantity of potatoes and wreaked havoc inside.

He was first fitted with a tracking device in the spring of 2012, but this came off during his brush with the train. He was later fitted with a new one. It is known  that he and his two brothers, M12 and M14, were moving around between Switzerland, Austria and Italy.

M14 was killed by a car in Italy last spring.

A local gamekeeper told Romansch-language radio that it is not clear whether M13 has woken up definitively, but they are keeping a close eye on him.

The report by Il Grigione Italiano said the measures taken to discourage M13 from approaching human beings had not worked, and that he had "gone too far". He should be classified as dangerous and be shot, it said.

Georg Brosi, head of the Graubünden cantonal hunting office, told the Swiss News Agency on Monday that discussions were underway between the canton and the federal authorities about the bear’s behaviour.

Under the Swiss "bear plan", an animal which has become a safety risk because it has no fear of people and ignores harassment techniques to frighten it away should be "removed".

A bear known as JJ3 was shot by gamekeepers in Graubünden in 2008 when its behaviour was deemed to have become too risky.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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