A political battle erupts when locals objecting to the arrival of bears decide to hold a very particular kind of barbecue.
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It was meant to be a provocative protest against plans to populate a wooded area in northern Italy with brown bears. But to some members of the Italian government and other critics, it was simply barbaric.
A planned BBQ of bear meat was halted just before kick-off, sparking the ire of its organizer. "I'm as mad as a bear," said Erminio Boso, a local politician and longtime member of the Northern League, a member of the ruling coalition known for flamboyant and highly controversial stances against immigrants and Muslims. And now, it seems, bears.
Boso had organized the outdoor banquet featuring some 100 kilograms of bear meat, imported from Slovenia, to protest against an initiative aimed at populating the woods in Trentino, an Alpine region in northern Italy. He fears it would prevent people from taking hikes in the woods. His solution? Eating a bear.
The plan in the small village of Imer prompted immediate protests of not just animal rights groups, but also of members of the government, the League's allies in Rome, including prominent ones such as the foreign minister. Eventually, Italy's health minister sent members of a police unit usually dealing with food contaminations and animal disease, who seized the meat. "They spoiled the party," Boso complained. He and his fellow party-goers were left with sausages and a pasta dish with minced deer sauce.
As it turned out, the police also found that organizers lacked proper documentation for the import of the Slovenian bear.
photo Harry Brignull