Story By: Lisa-Maria Goertz, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Newsflash
A young Italian police officer survived an encounter with a grizzly bear who attacked him in a mountainous area on the way to work.
The 24-year-old officer, Diego Balasso, had been in the mountain village of Andalo, in the northern Italian province of Trentino.
According to national newspaper Corriere del Veneto, the officer gave a telephone interview from the Santa Chiara hospital in Trento describing the attack which happened on Saturday evening, just before starting his night shift.
Balasso said: “I was walking along the path that runs along the lake of Andalo with a friend of mine when we first heard a noise in the water and then the breaking of a branch. My friend got scared and moved away a bit, while I, continuing to hear noises, walked left towards the lake.
“It was only that that I saw a black silhouette twenty metres from me climbing the cliff.
“When I realized that the bear was looking at me, I yelled at my friend not to move and I remained motionless. Then the bear came up and stood in front of me, starting to smell me.
“I remained motionless. He then reached down and gave me two tugs with his teeth below the knee. I took a step back and at that point, he jumped at my leg and threw me to the ground. Luckily I had a mountain duvet on me which softened the impact.
“He started dragging me so I tried to turn on the music on the phone, but it didn’t help. Then I threw the phone and wallet at him but nothing. Then he slipped me under the fence with the intention perhaps of taking me to the lake. I clung to the wooden barriers and managed to free myself.
“He kept chasing me, but then when he came back in front of me I had the reflex of grabbing his ears and holding his head down, I don’t know for how long. Then he attacked my left shoulder again and during this time my friend’s brother arrived and together with other boys started screaming, making the bear run away. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be alive.
Balasso is still in hospital with various open wounds which are being monitored so they do not become infected, although he is not in a serious condition.”
The officer added: “There were moments of terror, but being a carabiniere and being in contact with the forest, I know by heart all the procedures to follow in these situations.
“I fought and I’m safe thanks to friends”
When asked about what he thinks should be done about the bear, named with the code M57, Balasso said: “An animal like this cannot be around. I am not able to answer about killing it, but a specimen like this is a danger to man.”
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