Italy Wants Dead Bear Back Diplomatic Row Rages Over Bruno
Eight months after his tragic death, Bruno the brown bear still can't rest in peace. The Bavarian government that had him shot has refused persistent demands from Italy to hand him back. The Germans are hiding Bruno in a freezer at an undisclosed location and plan to stuff him once the dust has settled.
Bruno on his Alpine rampage last year.
Bavarian Environment Minister Werner Schnappauf, who ordered Bruno shot after repeated attempts to catch him alive failed, has refused requests from Italian Environment Minister Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio to return the bear's cadaver to Italy, where he was born.
The German federal government would like to oblige the Italians and feels that handing over Bruno would be a friendly gesture given that Germany currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union.
But Schnappauf recently wrote a letter to German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel saying that Bavaria has no legal requirement to give Bruno back, and that such a move would in any case be difficult to explain to the German public.
Bruno, born in the Italian Alps, wandered over into Austria and Bavaria where he was judged a "problem bear" because he was not shy of humans and kept coming close to farms and villages in his hunt for food.
At one point, while specially trained bear hunters with sniffer dogs were looking for him high up in the Alps, he nonchalantly strolled into a village and sat on the steps of a police station. He was shot because authorities deemed him a risk to humans.
The Bavarian government wants to have Bruno stuffed and put in a museum. He is being kept in a freezer and his location is being kept secret for security reasons, according to the Bavarian Environment Ministry.
It's unclear whether this is to prevent a raid by Italian commandos or a vigil by the many Bruno fans for whom the bear remains an unforgotten tragic hero.