A much loved female bear has been killed on the edge of a major Italian town by a man who claimed to be driven to shoot out of fear.
Amarena, the bear, was filmed wandering with her two pups in the village of San Sebastiano Dei Marsi earlier this week.
The regional governor, Marco Marsilio, emphasised that no bears had ever presented a threat to local communities in the Abruzzo region.
However, earlier this year, a jogger was killed by a bear assault in the Alps.
The news of Amarena’s death shocked the people of Abruzzo, where she was well-known.
She was called after a variety of black cherry, a favourite snack of hers, which made her even more popular in the town reports the BBC.
Amarena was one of roughly 60 highly endangered Marsican bears that live in the Abruzzo National Park in central Italy, their natural habitat.
The national park authorities released a heartbreaking image of the lifeless bear laying on the ground and stated in an official statement that she was killed by gunfire close outside the park’s boundaries, near San Sebastiano dei Marsi.
According to the park’s report, park guards responded quickly to the event since the cubs were present. Despite this, veterinarians could only certify the bear’s death.
While Amarena had previously caused crop and cattle damage, the park claimed that the lethal strike was unjustified in their view.
The park said: “Amarena had never created any kind of problem for humans.”
Local police identified and interrogated the individual responsible for the animal’s death.
The man is reported to have said: “I shot out of fear, but I didn’t want to kill. I found her inside my property and it was an impulsive, instinctive act.”
Piero Genovesi, head of Italy’s wildlife service Ispra said: “Amarena was a symbol of the park, everybody loved her.
“She was so frequently observed; she was never aggressive.”
Amarena’s two bear cubs are still missing desperate a frantic search.
Park rangers and police officers are working to find the cubs.