In late autumn of last year, a bear was spotted some 30 kilometres from the German border between Mittenwald and Trentino in Italy before he chose a nearby place in Switzerland to hibernate for the winter. Experts believe it could be Bruno’s half-brother, identified by scientists as four-year-old MJ4.
But this bear is said to be mellower than his famously destructive brother, who was killed for snacking on local livestock and causing mischief that some considered made him a danger to humans.
“The bear’s movements are documented, but there are no photos,” Bavaria’s bear expert Manfred Wölfl said. “There has also been no possibility for genetic identification, because we haven’t found hair or scat.”
But Wölfl still believes that the bear spotted last fall was MJ4. “There are not that many bears that come from the Trentino area,” he said, adding that the bear is definitely not from Austria, where only two to three bears still survive.
The few bears left in the region will likely emerge from their winter hibernation in March or April, depending on weather and experts eagerly await the possibility that MJ4 could wander into Bavaria.
Before Bruno, who is now stuffed and on display in Munich, the last bear to be killed in Germany perished in 1835. His death was a celebrated event and his carcass was paraded through town streets as a trophy.