Italian authorities are hunting a bear which mauled a 26-year-old jogger to death in the Italian Alps last week.
Andrea Papi was attacked by the brown bear, identified as JJ4 by genetic testing, while on a run in the north-eastern region of Trentino.
At his funeral on Wednesday, hundreds of residents in the region rallied around his family to “bid a last farewell”, a statement on the province’s website read.
“Many of us are here, many, all upset, in tears, next to the family and the fiancée, with a pain that has no name inside. Andrea died innocent, on his road, our road, where he played sports but met death ”, the parish priest, Don Renato Pellegrini, said.
“Andrea, we greet you with so much affection, pain and the nostalgia of someone who has lost a friend, a person capable of following the paths of the future,” he added.
Officials have said DNA from the bear was found on injuries sustained by Mr Papi to his arms, stomach, head and throat.
JJ4 is a 17-year-old female bear, which also attacked a father and son in June 2020 – prosecutors in Trentino had applied for it to be euthanised at the time, but a court ruling overturned the decision.
The bear wears a GPS-equipped radio collar that is supposed to track its movements, however it reportedly stopped recording its movements due to faulty signalling.
In a letter published by Italian outlets on Tuesday, Mr Papi’s mother, Franca Ghirardini, said her family “will fight to the end to get justice for my Andrea”.
She said: “My soul and that of my family is devastated by immense pain, we can’t get over it. Knowing that Andrea was at the mercy of the bear devastates me.”