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Young Bear Cubs Orphaned After Italian Officials Kill Mama Over Mauling

<p>Marshmallow / <a class="checked-link" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tmarschner/2728812987">Flickr</a></p>

One of the last brown bears living in the Italian Alps died this week after being tranquilized for capture, provoking outrage and demands for an investigation into the bear's death.

The 18-year-old bear, dubbed Daniza by officials in northern Italy, mauled a man who was foraging for mushrooms in late August - he escaped with stitches and bites on his arm.

When local officials announced that they wanted to capture the bear and move her and her two cubs to a more remote area, animal advocates pushed back. Caterina Rosa Marino of the League for the Abolition of Hunting (LAC) told The Guardian at the time:

"We do not think she should be captured or killed because she has not shown anomalous behaviour. She simply defended her cubs, which is what any mother would do. The behaviour of the mushroom forager was not suitable."

While the mushroom forager says that he did not provoked the bear, activists believe that the attack wasn't grounds for capturing the animal. Daniza eluded her captors for weeks, drawing attention from the Italian media as a "fugitive" or "mafioso."

But now, Phys.org reports that Daniza was finally captured, tranquilized and, eventually, died. A spokesperson for the government in Trento in northern Italy said simply that the bear "was put to sleep but, unfortunately, did not survive."

Italy's Greens are calling for a criminal inquiry. Said spokesman Angelo Bonelli:

"A bear that was attempting to defend her own cubs from danger has died at the hands of the institutions, and now her small cubs are also in danger without the protection of their mother."

Her cubs are eight months old. One was captured, tagged and released, while the other could not be found. Brown bear cubs usually stay with their mothers for two to four years.

Daniza was one of some 50 bears living in Italy. In the 1990s, she was transferred to the area from Slovenia as part of a groundbreaking reintroduction program along with nine other bears.