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Problem bear wakes from winter slumber

A brown bear with a reputation for trouble has come out of winter hibernation and been spotted on several walkabouts in canton Graubünden.

The bear, named JJ3, arrived in the area from Italy in June 2007 and was fitted with a tracking device before it began its four-month hibernation.

Harsh weather due this week could force the animal back under cover, the canton’s hunting service said on Monday.

JJ3 caused problems last year destroying rubbish bins around the Lenzerheide resort and in the Albula valley. The cantonal government has already decided that the bear will be killed if it moves into populated areas again.

Bears were hunted to extinction in the Alps in the 19th century and the last Swiss bear was shot in 1904.

Ten bears were imported to save a small colony in Italy in 1999. When the bears reproduced their cubs were expected to cross the Swiss border in search of their own territory.

The Federal Environment Office expects Switzerland to become home to a maximum of 15 bears.

JJ3’s brother JJ1 was killed after roaming into Bavaria from Austria in 2006. His other brother, JJ2, gained celebrity status in 2005 after becoming the first brown bear spotted in Switzerland for over a century. He killed one calf and more than 20 sheep, before disappearing.

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