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Germany: No investigation into bear shooting

7/10/2006

MUNICH, Germany — German prosecutors said Friday they have decided against launching a criminal investigation into last month's shooting of the first wild bear seen in the country in 170 years.

The 2-year-old brown bear, known as Bruno, was fatally shot June 26 by hunters acting with authorization from the Bavarian state government. Officials reinstated permission to shoot him after a month of efforts to capture him alive failed.

The shooting was met with widespread dismay. Munich prosecutors received about 50 criminal complaints against the state environment minister, Werner Schnappauf, who had argued that the animal posed a danger to humans.

Munich prosecutors said in a statement Friday that "there are insufficient concrete indications of any criminal offense" and that they would not launch a formal investigation.

They added that the reasoning for the shooting order was "understandable."

Bruno was part of a project to reintroduce bears in northern Italy, but wandered north into Austria and then Germany, where he killed sheep and other livestock.

His increasingly bold and frequent appearances — at one point, he wandered into a lakeside resort and sat down outside a police station — raised fears that he could attack humans.