Rampaging Slovak bear shot dead after injuring five

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A brown bear runs across a road next to a zebra crossing in the town of Liptovsky Mikulas, Slovakia on 17 MarchImage source, Reuters

Image caption,

The bear was captured on video running along streets in a town in northern Slovakia on 17 March

By Rob Cameron

BBC News, Prague

A brown bear that injured five people during a rampage in a Slovak town has been shot dead, the country's environment minister says.

Video footage of the bear bounding through the streets of Liptovsky Mikulas on 17 March went viral.

It took ten days to track down the brown bear. It was shot dead in a local forest on Tuesday.

The Slovak government now wants greater freedom to reduce the bear population by selective culls.

A drone and biometric technology were used to identify the bear, Environment Minister Tomas Taraba said in a post on Facebook, thanking all those who were involved in the operation.

A state of alert with heightened police patrols were declared in districts across the region last week as a preventative measure against similar attacks.

The bear, estimated by Slovakia's actuality.sk news server to be a three-year-old weighing around 70kg (11 stone), was captured on numerous photos and videos as it ran through the streets of the northern Slovak town earlier this month.

One video showed the bear swiping at a man on a pavement. Five people, including a 10-year-old girl, were injured, and two were taken to hospital with gashes and scratches.

Media caption,

Watch: Videos on social media showed a large bear bounding down the pavement before lunging at a man

One woman told a local paper she had been left traumatised by the attack.

Some members of Slovakia's populist nationalist government says the incident proves the need to loosen EU environmental protections on wildlife that prevent animals such as bears and wolves from being hunted.

"This is a case where a bear has brutally attacked people. One person almost lost an eye," Rudolf Huliak, an MP for the right-wing Slovak National Party - which is in charge of the Environment Ministry - told local media immediately after the incident.

Mr Huliak called for a "a firm solution to the excessive number of bears".

The ministry plans - together with Romania - to appeal to EU colleagues to reclassify bears to allow selective culling.

Better environmental protection in central and eastern Europe since the fall of communism 1989 has meant bears have returned to their natural habitats across the Carpathian mountain range, which stretches up from Romania through western Ukraine and on to Slovakia and Poland.

Researchers, however, say there has been no explosion in Slovakia's estimated bear population, which they say remains stable at around 1,275.

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