• A brown bear in Italy
    A brown bear in Italy

A wild bear in Italy has justified its nickname of Papillon by escaping from a supposedly secure enclosure in the Dolomites - and area popular for summer hiking - for the second time.

The brown bear, which biologists know as M49, first escaped from an enclosure near the northern town of Trento last year, clambering over a 4m high barrier and an electrified fence.

The escape was considered so daring that the bear was nicknamed Papillon, after the 1969 book by Henri Charrière about a prisoner escaping from the penal colony of Devil's Island, in French Guiana.

The bear went on the run for 10 months, raiding beehives and barns. After being declared a nuisance, it was recaptured in April and returned to the enclosure from which it fled.

Now, Papillon has done it again, fleeing a second time from the wildlife centre in Casteller, near Trento.

The escape was announced by Maurizio Fugatti, the governor of the autonomous province of Trentino. This time, however, officials have a much better idea of where the bear is because it is equipped with a tracking collar.

National park rangers have been dispatched to recapture the bear but animal rights groups said it should be allowed to remain free. Sergio Costa, Italy's environment minister, said he believed the animal should remain at liberty.

The bear was originally captured last July after officials judged that it was getting too close to human habitations and posed a potential danger to people.

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