Italy's Bear-Meat Barbecue: A Peculiar, 'Barbaric' Animal Protest

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G. Cappelli / Getty Images

A brown bear in Italy's Abruzzo National Park in 2008

This post is in partnership with Worldcrunch, a new global-news site that translates stories of note in foreign languages into English. The article below was originally published in La Stampa.

It was meant to be a provocative protest against plans to populate a wooded area in northern Italy with brown bears. But to some members of the Italian government and other critics, it was simply barbaric.

A planned barbecue of bear meat was halted just before kickoff, sparking the ire of its organizer. "I'm as mad as a bear," said Erminio Boso, a local politician and longtime member of the Northern League, a member of the ruling coalition known for flamboyant and highly controversial stances against immigrants and Muslims. And now, it seems, bears.

Boso had organized an outdoor banquet featuring some 100 kg of bear meat, imported from Slovenia, to protest against an initiative aimed at populating the woods in Trentino, an Alpine region in northern Italy. He fears it would prevent people from taking hikes in the woods. His solution? Eating a bear.

The plan in the small village of Imer prompted immediate protests of not just animal-rights groups but also of members of the government who are the Northern League's allies in Rome, including the prominent ones like the Foreign Minister. Eventually, Italy's Health Minister sent members of a police unit usually dealing with food contaminations and animal disease, who later seized the meat. "They spoiled the party," Boso complained. He and his fellow partygoers were left with sausages and a pasta dish with minced-deer sauce.

As it turned out, the police also found that the organizers lacked proper documentation for the import of the Slovenian bear.

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