Wednesday 16 April 2008


Bear Pit Bern

The bears in the photo live in the bear pit in Bern, which is tradition in the town of Bern. This bear pit has grown old and no longer meets with a bear-friendly environment, so it is being re-built on the shores of the River Aare in Bern. The bears will be able to swim in the river in a special enclosure.

The bear JJ3 did not live in such a friendly area. Further to my blog yesterday about our Bear JJ3 which was killed, here is a translation of an article in our local newspaper today. It was on the front page with the headlines "The Bear risk was too Big".

Grisons JJ3 was killed near Thusis on Monday morning
The bear JJ3 is dead. For many weeks the Grison (Eastern part of Switzerland, very mountainous) population were holding their breath because the bear was not afraid of people. On Monday he was killed by rangers.

The shooting was the end of an inevitability, that we all knew would come" said Reinhard Schnidrig, commander in chief of the rangers to the media in Chur (capitol town of Grisons). After his hibernation the bear JJ3 plundered again and again refuse bins and containers in villages in the area of Lenzerheide-Albulatal-Savognin. The several efforts to get rid of the bear with explosions and ribber bullets did not impress the bear at all. According to the Grisons president Stefan Engler he became more and more impertinent. The cantonal authorities did not want to risk an accident involving humans. On Monday evening JJ3's fate was sealed.

He earned more chances
Environment and animal welfare organisations condemned the shooting as a course of action which jumped to conclusions. From their point of view JJ3 hat earned a further chance, the scaring away of the bear should have been carried further. The animal had never been aggressive towards humans. "We are of the opinion that the authorities should have developed a clearer strategy before they classified JJ3 as a risky bear and condemned him to be shot" said Kurt Eichenberger, Project chief for WWF in the interview. "The potential danger was at a minimum and in our eyes would not have grown. JJ3 had never shown himself to be aggressive. And also in the expectancy of the immigration of further bears the shooting was no solution." The WWF are now examining further legal steps, also to make adjustments to the "Bear concept".

The responsible persons of the Federation and the Kanton resisted the accusations that they had not done enough and referred to the other bear in Grison, MJ4, that was causing no problems. They had seen no possibility with JJ3 to influence his actions. To catch the bear and put him in a bear park was no alternative for the Grison hunting inspectors out of animal ethical reasons.

That JJ3 would become a problem must lay in the family. 2 years ago his brother Bruno caused panic and havoc in Baveria before he was shot.

To keep bears away from human settlements the Kanton Grisons had decided to introduce a bear proof disposal system."

So those are the facts in Switzerland at the moment. There is a movement against the local government decisions. When I came home from work today, Mr. Swiss said when he heard the bear had been shot it shocked him. He was listening to people speaking on the radio today and many are against the shooting. It seems to me the Swiss just don't know how to deal with the problem and have had no experience with this sort of thing. Bear JJ3 was a bit cheeky and was sitting outside the front door when a mother went out in the morning to take her children to school - Why, because she had left the dustbin outside. Or there is the bee keeper whose complete bee hives had been destroyed by JJ3 because the bear was after the honey. Here again the Grison authorities are going to give help for the bee keepers to be able to protect their bee hives with barbed wire and an alarm system. Slowly people are waking up to how to deal with bears. It's just a shame that a beautiful bear had to die first of all. The Swiss wanted the bears to return and now they are here they realise they just don't know how to cope.

I am for preserving all animal life and there are always ways and means to do it, sometimes the decision makers just don't seem to be able to see the forest for trees.

Bear Pit, Bern

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