From: Associated Press
Published June 16, 2006 12:00 AM

Fugitive Bear Hit by Car in Southern Germany

BERLIN — A fugitive brown bear who has been wandering southern Germany and Austria was hit by a car but apparently not seriously hurt, an official with an environmental group said Thursday.


A motorist called police around 10:45 p.m. (2045 GMT) Wednesday to report that he had struck a bear near the Sylvenstein reservoir south of Munich, said Joern Ehlers, spokesman for Germany's Worldwide Fund for Nature, or WWF.


The car's right mirror struck the bear a glancing blow, said Roland Eichhorn of the Bavarian Environment Ministry.


The bear ran off into the bushes, and no blood was found on the damaged car, officials said, indicating the bear was not seriously hurt, if at all.


The bear -- named JJ1 -- came from northern Italy, where he was part of a program to reintroduce the animals to the Italian Alps. He has been blamed for killing livestock.


JJ1 ambled into Germany last month, becoming the first bear sighted there since 1835. Bavarian officials authorized hunters to trap or shoot the animal, despite an outcry from animal rights activists.


Authorities now hope to capture him alive. In addition to a live bear trap imported from the Rocky Mountains in the United States, they have brought in a pack of Finnish hunting dogs to help track him down so he can be shot with a tranquilizer dart.


The bear has been spotted several times and even photographed, but so far has eluded the dogs.


The dog team went to the scene of Wednesday's accident, but the scent trail led only to the reservoir.


"Apparently the bear swam across," Eichhorn said.


The team searched the shore of the reservoir but came up empty. Hot temperatures that dissipated the scent were complicating their work, Eichhorn said.


JJ1 shows no fear of water and has apparently crossed the Inn River at least twice in his travels.


Local authorities asked residents to be on the lookout and inform police of any sightings or tracks.


If captured, the bear is to be released in a nature reserve near Munich, or returned to his home in northern Italy.


Source: Associated Press


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