A bear set to be killed after being blamed for the death of a runner has been granted a reprieve by an Italian court.
The 17-year-old, known as JJ4, was captured by park rangers after DNA evidence linked her to the death of Andrea Papi April 5.
It was due to be put down, but the Trento City Court has now postponed the culling until at least June 27 after environmental groups filed an appeal.
It comes after the body of Mr Papi, 26, was found in the Trentino-Alto Adige region in the Italian Alps.
His worried girlfriend had reported him missing after he failed to return from a jog.
Along with his body, a search party reportedly discovered a bloodstained branch at the scene, leading investigators to believe he may have tried to use it to fight off the bear.
JJ4 was also involved in an attack on a father and son while hiking in the area in 2020.
Local officials said the bear should be put down due to its history of attacking humans. But campaigners have argued she should instead be moved to a reserve – in Italy or abroad – instead.
Mr Papi’s family also previously said they did not want the bear killed.
At a hearing on Friday, judges agreed to postpone JJ4’s death for at least a month to give both sides more time to submit evidence.
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The court announced that it would hold a new hearing in December. Animal rights groups said this meant the animal could not be killed before then, but authorities have not confirmed this.
JJ4 was captured almost two weeks after Mr Papi died when she was lured into a trap, before being sedated and taken to a detention centre.
Her three cubs who accompanied her at the time were later released, safe and sound.
Another bear on the loose
The judges further ordered a similar suspension for another suspect bear, known as MJ5, who has yet to be captured.
This bear is also facing a kill order after being accused of attacking a man in March, who was injured – but managed to escape – while walking his dog on a mountain path.
The area was repopulated with bears from 1999 under an EU-funded program following concerns that bear numbers were dwindling to the point of near extinction.
The region had around 100 wild bears in 2021, with their numbers increasing by around 10% per year since 2015, according to official figures.
Trentino Governor Maurizio Fugatti is under pressure to reduce its population after saying the region had an “excessive” amount of bears and claiming the optimal number would be around 50.