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Bear necessities

A hungry bear has been blamed after mistaking this skidoo for a tasty snack and ripping off large chunks before realising the error of his ways and making off at Nauders at Tyrol in south-western Austria.

The attack happened near the Goldseehütte some 1,900 metres above sea level and the bear was spotted as it made off by the driver of a piste grooming machine.

Driver Uwe Moeller said: "It was close to midnight and I spotted the beast's tracks in the freshly groomed snow – and when I followed them a short while later I spotted the bear by the skidoo. I put the headlights on full and the bear ran off."

Wildlife experts said that the bears were notoriously drowsy after waking up from their long winter sleep and the animal had probably been confused when it tackled the skidoo.

It was an unusual exercise for police – who had to take DNA samples of the hair left by the bear at the scene in order to try and identify the beast.

Officials in Austria keep a careful record of all incidents involving bears in order to try and track down problem animals.

Local Council representative for animal affairs Martin Janovsky said: "We are at the moment watching to see the way this particular bear carries on. At the moment things are relatively relaxed and we don't see any risk for further damage to property or indeed individuals. The biggest danger is probably to beehives."

Police believe that the current incident was possibly carried out by the bear known by officials as M13 - or in local media as the mother bear because of his preference for stealing rucksacks from hikers or raiding campsites. Bears are now known by their scientific names under which they are registered rather than with human names to avoid an emotional attachment being built up when problem bears have to be shot.

The bear M13 is known not to be nervous of people and locals walking in the region are advised to steer clear of the animal if they spot it and not to attempt to feed it.

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