Bear Relocated After Bakery Break-in Walks 100 Miles 'Home'

'Juan Carrito' has returned to Italian mountain town
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 14, 2022 8:22 AM CDT

For a young brown bear in Italy, the call of the trash turned out to be a lot stronger than the call of the wild. The bear, named "Juan Carrito" by residents of a ski town in the Abruzzo region, has returned to the town after a failed effort to "rewild" him, the Guardian reports. Juan Carrito, who was known for rummaging through trash and drinking from fountains in Roccaroso and who devoured biscuits after breaking into a bakery in November, was captured in early March and spent time in an enclosure designed to mimic natural conditions before he was released in a remote mountain area.

Things initially went well after Juan Carrito was released in the Maiella National Park, says park director Luciano di Martino, a biologist. But after around three weeks of living off what he could find in the park, including grass, ants, and tubers, the 2-year-old bear departed for his "home" almost 100 miles away, bypassing other towns on his way to Roccaroso. The bear "climbed the valleys and peaks, passed through inaccessible areas, moving for over 150 kilometers, until he returned," di Martino tells La Repubblica.

Juan Carrito is a marsican bear, a critically endangered subspecies native to the Apennine mountains. He returned to the town after a previous attempt to relocate him in December and 600 residents signed a petition against recapturing him, arguing that the bear, who is known for being playful with dogs, hadn't harmed anybody. Park president Lucio Zazzara says it seems Juan Carrito only missed Roccaroso to a "certain extent," because for three weeks, he "substantially lived as a bear, eating food in his natural environment, and didn’t go close to homes, nor did he search in bins for food." Authorities plan to closely observe the bear before making a decision on relocating him a third time. (More bears stories.)

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