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Bear JJ1 (2004 – 26 June 2006) was a brown bear whose travels and exploits in Austria and Germany in the first half of 2006 drew international attention. JJ1, also known as Bruno in the German press (some newspapers also gave the bear different names, such as Beppo or Petzi), is believed to have been the first brown bear on German soil in 170 years.
Previously, the last sighting of a bear in what is now Germany was recorded in 1838 when hunters shot a bear in Bavaria. Initially heralded as a welcome visitor and a symbol of the success of endangered species reintroduction programs, his dietary preferences for sheep, chickens, and beehives led government officials to believe that he could become a threat to humans, and they ordered that he be shot or captured.
Public objection to the destruction order resulted in its revision, and the German government tried to use non-lethal means to sedate and capture the bear.
JJ1 was described as bloodthirsty, clever, and fast. Bavarian prime minister Edmund Stoiber referred to him as a Problembär ("problem bear"). Farmers claimed the bear "enjoyed killing," because he typically killed sheep without eating them. This behavior, called surplus killing, common among predators, was construed as being caused by interaction with people.
As of 21 June 2006, his kills included 33 sheep, four domestic rabbits, one guinea pig, as well as some hens and goats. Further concern was expressed due to the proximity of the bear's preferred prey to humans.
Purportedly, several attempts were made to catch Bruno alive, assisted by a team of Finnish bear hunters using five dogs (which were described in the press as either Karelian Bear Dogs or Elkhounds). The attempts failed, and JJ1 was shot at Rotwand mountain (see Miesbach (district)) near Lake Spitzingsee in southern Bavaria in the early morning of 26 June.
The magazine Private Eye reported in early July 2006 that Bruno was part of an EU-funded €1 million conservation project in Italy. A spokesman said that there had been "co-ordination" between Italy, Austria and Slovenia to ensure the bear's welfare but apparently Germany had not been informed.
The Life Ursus reintroduction project of the Italian province of Trento had introduced 10 Slovenian bears in the region monitoring them. JJ1 was the first son of Jurka and Joze (thus the name JJ1), JJ3 the younger brother also showed an aggressive character and wandered in Switzerland in 2008 and was killed there. Because of this second problem the mother Jurka was put in captivity in Italy among protests of the environmentalists, authorities of the park maintained that 50% of the incidents involving bears had been caused by Jurka or her descendant. Bruno has become a subject of diplomatic strife. The Italian government in Rome has declared Bruno state property of Italy, and is demanding his return. The Bavarian government where Bruno was shot dead refused, claiming a carcass on German land is theirs to keep. JJ1 has been stuffed, and is currently on display at the Museum of Man and Nature in Munich.
- Private Eye, issue 1162, p. 5.
- Harding, Luke (2006-06-26). "Bavarian hunters kill Bruno the bear". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-04-26.
- Steve Rosenberg (2007-03-27). "Battle over Bruno the bear's body". BBC News.
- "The Life Ursus reintroduction project". Provincia Autonoma di Trento. 2009-03-07.
- Steve Rosenberg (2007-03-27). "Risky bear JJ3 has been shot". Federal Office for the Environment.
- Sebastian Fischer and Ralf Neukirch (2010-12-03). "US Diplomats Analyzed Death Of Bruno the Bear (2010 Wikileaks)". Der Spiegel.
- Bavaria's Wild Bear Summer SPIEGEL ONLINE Photo Gallery