Boycott call after 'barbaric' shooting of bear

 TRENT -- Scores of tourists have cancelled holidays in the dazzling Dolomites in response to a call by animal activists for a boycott of the north Italian province of Trento in protest at the “barbaric killing” by forest rangers of  another brown bear that had attacked two hikers, activists said.

 “So far we have hear of about 30 cancellations of houses and hotels affecting some 100 tourists who have decided not to pass their holidays in Trentino after the barbaric killing of the bear,” the Italian Association for the Defence of Animals and the Environment (AIDAA) said. “Italian, Russian and French tourists have renounced bookings.” The group renewed its call for the boycott after forest rangers on the written orders of the Trento provincial government president, Ugo Rossi,  on Sunday put down the female bear with the codename ‘KJ2,’ who had been on the run since she attacked and wounded a 70-year-old man in a wood when he came across her with her cubs near the Lamar lakes July 22 as he was walking his dog.

  Many of those cancelling sojourns made it known on Twitter. “I will never set foot in Trentino again,” said one protester using the hashtag #NoVisitTrentino.

 Stunning Dolomites ski resorts such as Madonna di Campiglio are favoured by British, French and other tourists. The AIDAA president, Lorenzo Croce, said business on the ski slopes also will be damaged by the group’s campaign.

 “We are hearing of many people every hour  who have decided to change ski location for next winter,” said Ms Croce, who also has called for animal lovers to shun food products exported from Trentino.

 The group already had stuck up posters in the Dolomites at the start of this month calling for tourists to go home because another brown bear had been put down.  The latest protests have been echoed by the World Wildlife Fund, Italy’s Greens Party and other ecologist pressure groups.

 The provincial president, Ugo Rossi, was unrepentant. “That bear was very dangerous, she had already attacked a day tripper two years ago. Better this way than having a child wounded. I don’t want to gloat but big carnivores have to be put down, it happens all over the world.”

 The bear’s supporters said that it had been provoked by the dog of the man attacked in July, Angelo Metlicovec,  and that he had beaten the bear with his walking stick. Metlicovec himself said he was “stupefied” by the killing of the animal, “perhaps they should just have taken her away.”

 Despite the wave of emotion, many local people say they live in fear of the bears, whose numbers have multiplied since Italian authorities in 2001 introduced nine brown bears from Slovenia to the Dolomites to prevent them becoming extinct. Officially there are now between 48 and 66 bears in the province but locals believe the true figures are double.

Nevertheless Mauro Corona, a climber and writer from Trento, said the lesson of the drama is clear. “As always we are the real beasts. “ The hunting of the bear made no sense, he added, “because it was not aggressive, just defending itself. The bear was with her cubs in an area where man should not pass.”

 “People need to learn how to go through the woods rather than slaughtering bears.  We need to send forest guards into schools to teach children how to behave in the midst of nature.”