Italy to request return of Bruno the slain bear


ROME Italy's environment minister will formally ask his German counterpart Monday for the body of a brown bear killed by a government-sanctioned hunter, a television station reported.

Part of a project to reintroduce bears to northern Italy, 2-year-old Bruno roamed into Austria and Germany, killed sheep and rabbits, stole honey and made headlines across Europe.

Fearing he would one day target humans, officials in the southern state of Bavaria granted permission to kill Bruno, the first wild bear to be seen in Germany since 1835.

He was taken down with a single shot on June 26.

Italian Environment Minister Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio planned to issue a formal request for the bear's body, RAI Sender Bozen, the German language station of Italian state television, reported Saturday.

Pecoraro Scanio has protested the killing and said that the bear, a protected species, should have been shot with tranquilizers and transported back to Italy.

Pecoraro Scanio's spokesman could not immediately confirm the report Sunday because the minister was on his way to China and could not be reached.

However, spokesman Giovanni Nani said the idea of asking for the bear's body had been discussed.

"It's a way of remembering the error that was made," Nani said. He said he did not know what Italy would do with the body but it certainly would not be made into a "hunting trophy."