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Bear kills man in Slovakia in first fatal attack ‘in 100 years’

A bear has killed a man in central Slovakia, authorities have said, in what is believed to be the first recorded fatal attack of its kind in around 100 years.

"An autopsy confirmed today that a man from Liptovská Lúžná died as a result of injuries caused by this animal. We are sincerely sorry," state enterprise company, Lesy Slovenske Republiky, said in a statement on Tuesday.

Slovakia's brown bear population was almost hunted to extinction in the 1930s but has since returned to healthy levels.

A 2007 report by the Slovak Wildlife Society estimated their numbers to be around 800. Citing analysis by Slovakia's National Forestry Centre, Lesy Slovenske Republiky said that number was up to more 2,760 in 2020.

Slovakia’s environment ministry said the bear’s DNA samples would be collected to identify it.

The organisation said that while there had been only a handful of attacks last year, none of which were fatal.

News website SME reported the man went missing after going for a walk in the forest near the village of Liptovska Luzna in the Low Tatras mountains.

“We found him lying on his stomach beside a trail,” the website quoted a friend of the victim, Matej Bodor, as saying. “He had been bitten in his throat. He had been bitten in his belly, in his ribs.”

SME described it as Slovakia’s first known deadly bear attack for at least a century, while public news agency TASR called it the first such incident in Slovakia’s modern history.

A masters thesis submitted by a student studying alpine ecology at the University of South-Eastern Norway cited a fatal bear attack in 1927.

Referencing Pavol Lenko’s 2014 book on the state of brown bears in the Tatras mountains, the student wrote that a young shepherd was killed while defending his flock from a brown bear.

According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, the total global population of brown bears is estimated to be above 200,000.

They can also be found in other parts of Europe, including Romania, Ukraine, Poland and Russia.

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