Italian couple discover endangered bear on balcony

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Annalisa Castagna and her husband, Claudio Paravano, were alarmed by a noise outside their property and went to investigate, only to come face to face with a Marsican brown bear, Castagna recalled in a Facebook post published on Sunday.

They had “a close encounter with the bear. We were face to face, less than a yard away,” she wrote. “I was able to count all the teeth he had in his mouth plus the red tongue.”

Castagna said she “cried in the bear’s face” and the animal then tried to reach it with its paw.

The meeting took place at the couple’s home in the village of Pescosolido, home to less than 1,500 people, on the edge of Abruzzo National Park in central Italy.

The park is home to some 60 Marsican bears, which are smaller than those found in the Alps, “but they can still weigh up to 200 kilograms,” city mayor Donato Bellisario said.

“Before going into hibernation, bears are in a period of binge eating (extreme hunger), they need to store energy for the winter,” Bellisario told CNN Wednesday. “We often see them in the village looking for fruit, beehives, but they never attack the men.

Bellisario said he and a few national park rangers inspected the couple’s balcony to determine what attracted the bear, but they couldn’t tell.

While Castagna escaped the meeting unscathed, Paravano “was forced to jump over the fence,” according to the Facebook post. He fell three meters (10 feet) and suffered a fractured pelvis, Bellisario said, and is facing a few months of recovery.

Just days before this incident, a Marsican bear was seen taking an evening bath in a fountain in a nearby village, San Donato Val Di Comino.

“The bear has arrived in the village and is taking a bath in the fountain in the public garden,” read the caption of a photo published on the village’s Facebook page.

The photo was taken by Vania Tramontozzi, whose husband runs a bar in the central village square.

“The arrival of the bear was not noticed initially, it was really quiet,” she told CNN. “I assure you that to see him so calm and relaxed inside the fountain, around 7:45 pm, while the people are still there, was a rare and exciting thing.”


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