On the edge of an Italian national park, a brown bear was shot dead, which was repeatedly walking among people in villages. The animal, named Amarena (black cherry), was killed near the central Italian municipality of San Benedetto dei Marsi by a man who said he felt threatened. Amarena belonged to the rare species of Martian brown bear that lives only in the central Apennine mountains.

The Abruzzo National Park, where the bear lived, expressed regret over the death on Friday. In Italy, there is always a debate about how to deal with bears that come close to settlements. Politicians and animal rights activists condemned the shooting of the brown bear Amarena as “unjustified” and “a very serious incident”. Abbruzzo Region President Marco Marsilio said the bear was not a threat. The shooting down of the bear, which belonged to an endangered subspecies of brown bears, was completely “incomprehensible”.

Amarena had walked through villages several times in the past, also with her offspring. Videos of it are circulating on the Internet. On Thursday, the bear was found lifeless with gunshot wounds, as the park administration announced on Facebook. Immediately after the deadly shot at the bear, the shooter was identified as a 56-year-old local, according to national park authorities. He stated that the bear was on his property. He shot out of fear, but didn’t want to kill the animal.

Park management said there was “no reason” for Amarena’s death. Although it has caused damage to agriculture and animal husbandry in the past, it has never become a danger to humans. “She has never caused problems for people,” the statement said. Her offspring is now being sought. The young animals, which are only a few months old, cannot survive without their mother. In the Abruzzo National Park and its surroundings, attempts are now being made to capture the little bears – but without any success until Monday noon. Many fear it will soon be too late. In the first few days, all attempts to lure the two cubs into traps were unsuccessful. The shooter from the municipality of San Benedetto dei Marsi has since received death threats. In his neighborhood “Giustizia” (“Justice”) was written on a house wall. A “Justice for bear mama Amarena” demonstration was banned by the authorities.

The environmental organization WWF Italy described the bear’s death as a “serious blow to the bear’s chances of survival.” The organization announced a civil lawsuit against the shooter – which could also face legal consequences. Around 60 brown bears still live in the Parco Nazionale d’Abruzzo Lazio e Molise. A few years ago there were still 100. At the beginning of the year, another brown bear from the Abruzzo National Park was hit by a car and fatally injured.