Bear traps from America, bear dogs from Finland, bear hunters from Bavaria -- all of them are still no match for Bruno. The brown bear, officially known as "JJ1" once again made an appearance near the south-eastern town of Bad Tölz on Thursday evening not far from where he received a glancing blow from a car on Wednesday night. Not content merely to reignite the panic that has accompanied his every move over the past month, Bruno also took out yet another sheep on Thursday night in Bavaria -- adding to his total of over 30 dead sheep, a handful of slaughtered chickens and a pair of munched bunnies.
Bruno's Thursday evening stroll came to the attention of authorities after a number of hikers reported seeing the bear in the mountains around Bad Tölz. Immediately, a number of popular trails in the area were closed and even a gondola was temporarily shut down as the Finnish bear trackers once again raced to the scene in hot pursuit of the bear.
And this time, they managed to quickly pick up Bruno's scent. But darkness fell and the search was called off. On Friday morning, the dogs made another attempt to find Bruno, but as so often before, the bear seemed to have simply vanished. One of the dogs was wounded, but it's unclear if its bloody snout was caused by Bruno.
The dogs, said Werner Weindl -- the mayor of the small Alpine town of Lenggries -- on Friday morning, came quite close to the bear. "But unfortunately the hunters couldn't get close enough to him to anesthetize him. And he got away. That's the latest situation."
It has become a familiar story. The Bavarians flew in a special trap, designed to catch bears alive, from the United States, but Bruno seemed uninterested. The Finnish dogs have likewise had their difficulties -- once having to give up because of the searing summer heat and often having problems picking up the bear's scent. Meanwhile, Bruno has been having no problems finding enough farm animals to keep his hunger sated -- earning him the title of being a "problem bear" from Bavarian governor Edmund Stoiber. Authorities in Germany want to catch Bruno because he isn't shy of humans and may hurt someone in his farm forays.
But will he ever be caught? The question continues to captivate the German and Austrian media. And now, bets can even be placed. The Austrian sports betting Web site gamebookers.at presents gamblers with three questions: Will Bruno remain free until the World Cup final on July 9? Where will Bruno be captured: Austria, Germany or Italy? And finally, What will happen first: the German team will exit the World Cup tournament or Bruno the bear will be captured?
"There have been thousands of bets placed," gamebookers spokesman Thomas Brugge told SPIEGEL ONLINE. "The amounts bet have been quite small as most just see it as a fun thing. They just want to get involved and be part of the excitement."
Bruno's Internet presence isn't just limited to betting sites either. On E-bay, an authentic Bruno footprint can be bid on. Current price: 23. Bruno T-shirts are also making the rounds and the famous bear already has his own Wikipedia entry in Germany. And Bruno has his own Web page -- though as yet it only consists of a cute image of a wounded cartoon bear sitting next to a road sign.
With Bruno still roaming free, more is sure to come. On midday on Friday, the hiking region around Bad Tölz was once again open as was the gondola ferrying people up the Alps. Bruno, though, had once again gotten away.
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