Target: The Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN)
Goal: Condemn Switzerland for killing its last wild bear and encourage more humane treatment of future wild bears that migrate to Switzerland.
Recently, in the Poschiavo Valley area of Switzerland near the Italian border, the last wild bear known to be living in the country was shot and killed by local gamekeepers. The bear, a young male officially called M13, but known affectionately as “Mike” by fans, was classified as a “problem bear” by authorities due to his apparent lack of fear toward humans. However, according to a statement from the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), M13 had “never shown any aggression toward man,” and it was merely the potential of harm or accident that “had become intolerable,” leading to the death of this innocent bear.
M13 originated from the Trentino Alto Adige area of Italy where he and about 40 other bears were involved in a reintroduction program. Due to the migratory nature of these bears, M13 was one of eight bears to have wandered across the Italian-Swiss border in the past seven years. Recently, M13 had shown an increased lack of fear around humans, seeking out food near heavily populated areas and even breaking into a home last year. Since the incident, he had been fitted with a radio collar, and all his movements were carefully monitored. Unfortunately, these measures were deemed insufficient, and, coupled with what the FOEN described as an increased “risk [of] accident,” M13 was needlessly shot to death.
The Swiss branch of the World Wildlife Foundation expressed disappointment with the handling of M13, stating that his classification as a “problem bear” was unjustified. According to WWF bear expert, Joanna Schoenenberger, M13’s “death was a result of a lack of acceptance of bears in Poschiavo,” stemming from widespread misconceptions about bears amongst the community. Many, including Shoenenberger, have questioned why relocation, or simply increased efforts to frighten M13 away from populated areas were not implemented. Even more disconcerting is the possibility of others of these migratory bears facing the same fate as M13, should his death go unaddressed. Sign the petition to condemn the FOEN’s unnecessary killing of the country’s last wild bear, and encourage Director Bruno Oberle to implement more humane techniques of handling wild bears in the future.
Dear Dr. Bruno Oberle,
I am writing as a concerned animal right’s activist to condemn the unnecessary killing of Switzerland’s last wild bear, known as M13. The Swiss Federal Office for the Environment stated itself that this bear had never shown any aggression toward humans, but that his presence amidst human-inhabited areas alone posed too great a risk to the human population, resulting in the bear’s death. The mishandling of this situation resulted not only in the death of an innocent, wild creature, but also in setting a disturbing precedent for the future.
As director of the Federal Office for the Environment, it is your responsibility to ensure the proper handling of situations such as these, as well as the preservation of wild species. I ask that in the future, bears and all wild creatures that are seen as possible threats to society be treated with increased respect as well as caution, and that humane techniques such as relocation be implemented rather than needless killing. Peaceful cohabitation between humans and wild animals is necessary to ensure the continuation of wild species and biodiversity in our world.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Johan Doe via Fotopedia