Tunnels And Bridges Planned To Save Rare Italian Bears

Wed, 06/12/2013 - 10:20
words by Carol King Tunnels and bridges may be built in an effort to save Italy’s last wild bears – if funds can be found for the project. The Marsican bear is on the verge of extinction. It is estimated there are only 50 of the bears left in the world. A subspecies of the brown bear, the Marsican bear (Ursus arctos marsicanus) lives exclusively in the Central Apennines mountain range, in the Abruzzo National Park and the Montagne del Morrone. The call to build underpasses and bridges for the bears follows an incident where a four-year-old male bear strayed from Abruzzo National Park in search of a mate or territory. The bear was hit by a car on the A24 motorway near L’Aquila and died.Some four or five bears have been killed by cars or trains in the last 15 years. Park superintendent, Giuseppe Rossi, told British newspaper the ‘Daily Telegraph’ that he has permission to from the firm that manages the motorway to build a bridge or tunnel for bears. He is also working on a plan to dig 10 tunnels under roads inside the park. However, funding for the project is yet to be found. Since 1971, some 100 Marsican bears have been killed by hunters and by poison. Rossi told the ‘Daily Telegraph’ that building speculators are trying to drive out the bears from parts of the park. He said: “These bears, which are in danger of extinction, need space and peace.” Earlier this month, Italian newspaper ‘La Repubblica’ reported that 30 pieces of poisoned bait were found in the park in what appears to be an organised attack on the bears. Paolo Ciucci, a professor in the Department of Biology and Biotechnology at the University of Rome, told ‘La Repubblica’: “It was like throwing a bomb inside the Colosseum: a slap in the face to the park and to all those who have fought for the return of symbolic animals like the wolf and the bear.”