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Bear that injured 5 during rampage shot dead, Slovakia officials say — but critics say the wrong bear was killed

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Slovakia’s government on Wednesday said the bear that attacked five people in the country earlier this month was shot dead, as Bratislava drafted plans to ease bear cull restrictions. But opposition politicians said that a much smaller bear that had nothing to do with the rampage was actually killed. 

The bear attack that left five people, including a 10-year-old girl, injured occurred in the center of Liptovsky Mikulas, a town nestled in the foothills of the Tatra mountains near popular ski resorts, the BBC reported.

“A bear that injured five in Liptovsky Mikulas was successfully shot dead yesterday… A biometrics drone was used to identify it,” the environment minister Tomas Taraba said on social media on Wednesday.

Bear attacks have been on the rise in the Central European country, with 20 such incidents last year, up from only eight in 2021, according to data from the environment ministry.

This month, a woman from Belarus died following a separate bear attack in the Demanovska Dolina valley area in Liptovsky Mikulas district, falling to her death from a cliff after being chased by the animal.

On Wednesday, the government in Bratislava approved a draft law to address the bear attacks in urban areas.

The proposal stipulates the creation of a 500-metre safety zone in the vicinity of towns and villages.

Any bear entering this zone could be shot, Taraba told journalists.

“Not only members of the special bear response team will be able to shoot, but also hunters, police officers, and, in national parks, also their administrators,” Taraba said.

The Slovak populist government earlier this month published guidelines on the protective shooting of brown bears, prompting backlash from environmental groups and the opposition.

Opposition politicians also claimed authorities had shot the wrong bear, accusing the government of using the issue ahead of the presidential election on 6 April, the BBC reported.

“According to documents written by the bear intervention team that we found, a 67-kilogram female bear was caught and killed,” Progressive Slovakia opposition party member Michal Wiezik said. “It is not necessary to use high-end biometrics to make it clear that such a shooting cannot be in any way related to the 100-kilogram male they were looking for.”

“I’m certain it’s not the same bear. It’s obvious,” Wiezik told the BBC.

On Monday, the Slovak environment minister, together with his Romanian and Finnish counterparts, appealed to Brussels for an EU-wide solution to the issue of bears threatening people, according to the local TASR news agency.

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