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M13, Switzerland's Only Wild Bear, Killed By Authorities After Being Deemed A Threat To Humans

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M13, who is believed to be Switzerland's only wild bear, was killed this week after he was deemed too great of a threat to humans.

According to the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, the brown bear was shot by gamekeepers Tuesday in Val Poschiavo, located in the Alps near the Italian border. The Federal Office for the Environment explained that M13's death was "inevitable" in light of the danger he posed to human settlements.

“Both in the autumn and now after waking from his winter sleep, the bear kept looking for food in villages, had followed people in broad daylight and -- despite repeated measures to scare him off -- showed absolutely no fear of humans,” said the office in a Wednesday statement. “He was classified as a risk to human safety… it became inevitable that he would be shot.”

Reuters reports that M13 -- who was known for breaking into beehives at a school in the town of Poschiavo -- had been fitted with a radio collar so that his movements could be closely monitored.

Swiss authorities insist that they had made great efforts to promote peaceful coexistence with the bear. Local officials had reportedly tried "numerous times to ward off M13 with rubber bullets and other non-deadly measures" to keep him away from populated areas, the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation notes.

However, officials say the animal had not learned to stay away from humans and was becoming too great a risk.

"The bear M13 had certainly never showed any aggression toward man, but the risk that an accident might happen and that people might be badly injured or killed had become intolerable," the environment office said in its statement, according to CNN.

Still, many have expressed outrage at the news of M13's death. According to Italian daily Gazzetta Del Sud, fans on the bear's Facebook page have left "hundreds of messages mourning his death."

This is not the first time in recent years that a bear has been killed in the European nation. According to World Radio Switzerland, a bear named JJ3 was killed in 2008 after he too was deemed too great a risk to humans.

Though the brown bear is not considered a threatened species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, a "history of prolonged over-exploitation in Europe stretching back centuries [has] resulted in the elimination of brown bears" from many countries in the region, including Switzerland and Germany.

Though brown bears were once "relatively widespread" in Switzerland, the species was wiped out in 1904; only in recent years have a few individuals -- like M13 and J33 -- wandered into the country from Italy.

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Filed by Dominique Mosbergen
 
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