Risky bear JJ3 has been shot

Bern, 15.04.2008 - On the evening of 14 April 2008 gamekeepers of the Canton of Grisons shot bear JJ3 in the central Grisons area. The wild bear had become a safety risk for people, because it kept looking for food in settlements and, despite repeated attempts to repel it from villages, it showed no increase in fear. The shooting took place according to the Swiss Bear Plan.

In autumn 2007 and in recent weeks after its hibernation, bear JJ3 has attracted attention by its raids through settlements in the region of Lenzerheide, the Abula valley and Savognin. It regularly looked for food in rubbish bins and containers and no longer showed any fear at all of people and settlements. On several occasions the bear met people. Though the bear never showed aggressive behaviour, however the risk of an accident in which people could be injured or even killed became unjustifiably great.

Those responsible at the federal and cantonal levels could see no further possibility of influencing the behaviour of the bear. So, according to the Swiss Bear Plan, it became a "risky bear", which had to be shot. The plan foresees that a bear which has lost its fear of people, repeatedly goes into closed settlement areas and does not become more fearful of people despite repeated use of harassment techniques to frighten it off, must be removed.

On the evening of 14 April 2008 in the central Grisons area, JJ3 was shot by gamekeepers of the Canton of Grisons. The body will undergo an autopsy in the canton of Grisons and then be preserved.

The application of harassment techniques was of no avail

In autumn 2007 and for several weeks in spring 2008, the responsible authorities tried to instil more fear in the bear. They shot at it several times in so-called harassment actions, using rubber shot and with petards, doing their utmost to chase it out of the villages (see attached report "Bears in the Canton of Grisons 2007 / 2008"). The objective of the harassment actions was to change the behaviour of JJ3 in such a way that the bear would once again become wary and would learn to avoid people and settlements. However these actions, lastly at the beginning of April, were in vain; it was not possible to persuade JJ3 to change its behaviour.

The responsible authorities assume that JJ3 learned this behaviour from its mother Jurka, which was captured in Italy some time ago because of its lack of fear, and has since been living in an enclosure. Jurka's other descendants: JJ2 "Lumpaz" (the first bear to come into Switzerland in over a century, but missing since 2005) and JJ1 "Bruno" (shot in Bavaria in 2006) exhibited the same difficult behaviour. From its arrival in Switzerland, JJ3 was conspicuous, so it was captured in August 2007 and fitted with a collar emitter. In this way the bear's wanderings could be followed and harassment actions were easier to plan.

Before the decision was taken to remove the bear, discussions were held with the Italian authorities. The Italian representatives showed understanding of the Swiss situation. The responsible authorities of both countries came to the conclusion that capturing JJ3 and keeping the bear in an enclosure was not an option. From the point of view of animal ethics, it is questionable to keep a wild bear in an enclosure, because it could hardly be kept under appropriate conditions. Therefore, the Swiss Bear Plan envisages the shooting of risky bears.

Second bear is inconspicuous

A second bear, MJ4, has been roaming around in the Canton of Grisons since 2007 in the Engadine and Münster valleys and the National Park. This bear is shy, rarely causing any damage. The experience with this bear shows that Switzerland definitely can provide a habitat for bears. However, in the medium term it will be necessary to adapt the way of dealing with organic waste in regions where bears are permanently present. The Canton of Grisons will actively support the introduction of bear-safe waste collection systems, so as to keep bears as much as possible from human settlements.

The authorities face a difficult issue as regards bears that have come into Switzerland: there is a conflict between the goals for individual bears and those for the bear population. To give the whole population a chance of establishing itself in Switzerland, it may be necessary to remove a single individual which has become a risk.


Procedure for the decision to remove the bear

The responsible Intercantonal Commission (IKK) for the region affected assesses the situation from the specialist point of view, based on the Swiss Bear Plan. In the present case the IKK consists of the Hunting Administrator of the Canton of Grisons and the Head of the Wildlife and Forest Biodiversity Management Section of the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN). The IKK makes a recommendation to the competent Councillor of the canton involved, who then takes the political decision, according to federal legislation, as to whether or not to authorise the removal.


Address for enquiries

Media Office, Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), tel. +41 31 322 90 00
Stefan Engler, Head of the Department of Public Works, Traffic and Forests, Canton of Grisons, Tel. +41 81 257 36 14
Georg Brosi, Head of the Hunting and Fisheries Agency, Canton of Grisons, Tel. +41 81 257 38 92


Federal Office for the Environment FOEN