Animal rights groups in Italy are seeking a stay of execution after a brown bear was sentenced to death for attacking two tourists.
Fabio Misseroni, 59, and his son Christian Misseroni, 28, were hitting a rural trail in northern Trentino, Italy, on Monday when they said a bear had run into their path.
The bear then bit and hit the older man, breaking his leg in three places.
The young Misseroni jumped up and down and clapped his hands to distract his father’s bear before the animal fled into the woods.
The regulations of the Italian National Institute for Environmental Protection and Research require that bears that attack humans be euthanized.
After the attack, the Governor of Trentino, Maurizio Fugatti, signed a slaughter order allowing the bear to be captured and killed.
To ensure they kill the right bear, authorities are trying to identify the bear’s DNA from saliva and fur left in claws and bites and on father and son’s clothes .
There have been a number of bear attacks in the region in recent years, and local authorities have a database of bear DNA collected from faeces, fur and saliva.
Surveillance cameras are used to match DNA to animals.
In particular, they want to know if the father or the son did something to taunt the bear, which the men deny.
Over 17,000 people have signed a World Wildlife Fund petition to save the bear.
Italian Environment Minister Sergio Costa also opposes the death sentence. He suggested that the bear may be a female protecting its young.
“It is only after having collected certain scientific information on the animal involved in the accident with the two citizens that we will be able to assess technical solutions which, in my opinion, should not lead to the death of the animal” said Sergio Costa.