Post-mortem examination of the bear carcass
Amarena was killed by a single fatal shot. The bullet perforated her lungs and death occurred due to haemorrhaging. This is what emerged from the first results of the necropsy, carried out on September 5 in the Veterinary Department of the University of Teramo, on the body of the plantigrade which Mr Andrea Leombruni killed in San Benedetto dei Marsi. Prior to the examination, the vets also performed an X-ray on the bear carcass, which confirmed death by haemorrhaging. The bullet entered the lung from the side near the shoulder, irreparably compressed all the internal organs and caused internal haemorrhaging. From what emerged, Amarena’s was a slow death and she even tried to fight it by getting up from the ground several times to no avail. Analyses also showed that Amarena had been shot before, several times, but with shotgun pellets that had caused her non-lethal damage. The same circumstance had emerged during the autopsy on the carcass of the bear ‘Stefano’, who was killed in July 2013 on Mount Marrone, on the Molise side of the PNALM. The discovery of shotgun pellets in Amarena’s body confirms, if there was still any doubt, that some individuals continue to use firearms against bears even in protected areas. Some confident bears that have disappeared and never been found again in the last five years, such as ‘Mario’ and ‘Peppina’, the latter a frequent visitor to the Maiella National Park, were certainly poached and then hidden, something that did not happen in the case of Mr. Leombruni and his friends thanks to the timely intervention on the spot of the Park Rangers who were following and monitoring Amarena and her cubs that night.
Result of the ballistic expertise requested by the Magistrate and the Associations
Amarena was not in an aggressive attitude. She was hit in the side by a bullet. Harmless, in short. This is what said an expert’s report ordered by the Avezzano public prosecutor’s office. Ballistic expert Paride Minervini confirmed that the bear was shot by a 12-gauge rifle bullet that struck her in the shoulder, perforating the lung, as established by the post-mortem examination that Professor Rosario Fico performed. The bullet had been identified by the X-rays and then extracted during the autopsy examination at the Teramo Zoo-prophylactic Institute. In 90 days, Minervini will file the expert’s report that will be crucial in defining the suspect’s responsibility, as it will be used to establish the distance and trajectory of the bullet that killed Amarena.
What we did as Salviamo l’Orso
After the killing of Amarena, SLO instructed the Pezone law firm, which has been looking after our interests for many years, to present a report on the facts to the Avezzano Public Prosecutor’s Office. The complaint filed with the public prosecutor’s office on September 3 will allow us to follow and be directly informed on the various steps of the investigation and thus intervene with our experts, while waiting for an almost certain indictment of Mr. Leombruni, which we hope will be swift. At that point, our association will join the civil action against the defendant and take part in the trial through his lawyers, bringing further evidence to prove the premeditation of the crime committed.
The situation and status of the cubs 25 days after the death of their mother
The two cubs, who were born in January 2023, after about 36 hours of straying in the vicinity of San Benedetto dei Marsi – a highly dangerous and unsuitable area for the species due to its intensive agriculture, flat, full of warehouses and with a dense network of county and cross-country roads travelled by heavy traffic of vans and lorries -, moved about 25 km as the crow flies, , in a mountainous, wooded area, which their mother often frequented, and therefore well known to them, straddling the park boundary. Since then, while continuing to make even considerable movements, they have been observed almost daily by the PNALM Rangers or by some local residents who immediately reported their presence to the park authorities. All the observations and sightings agree that the cubs are extremely active, play with each other, as is characteristic of almost all mammals at this age and a sign of well-being, and feed themselves. This is confirmed by the park rangers’ analysis of their droppings. A lady who observed them on September 18 described them as: “much bigger than they had appeared to me on the videos of the night of August 31”.
So, can one rest assured about their future?
Certainly not yet… while the fact that they are growing up and have remained together reduces the risk of predation by wolves and feral dogs, road crossings remain extremely risky in view of the cubs’ constant movements. The absence of their mother, who was more experienced and at ease in the park area, where unfortunately the roads and their undisciplined and imprudent users are still many, exposes the cubs to a higher risk of investment.
Was there any other way to intervene to protect Amarena’s cubs?
We believe not. After realising that the cubs were impossible to catch with a cage trap or manually with a net because they were too big (8 and a half months) and vagile, the PNALM rightly eliminated the option of narcotizing them at a distance with a syringe gun, because the risk of tranquillizer killing them was very high, as was the risk of frightening them by approaching them and thus provoking their separation, whereas their staying together is now essential for their survival.