A very determined and naughty bear has walked more than 100 miles back to his ‘hometown’.
Juan Carrito hit the headlines last year after several high profile crimes in the Italian town of Roccaraso.
He had become infamous for biscuit thievery, bin-break ins and public urination.
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In March, the two-year-old was sent behind bars to an enclosure for ‘problem animals’ in the village of Palena.
In a bid to rehabilitate the bothersome bear, authorities then released him into the wilds of the Apennine mountains.
But Juan simply padded his way back to Roccaraso – a journey of more than 100 miles due to a few woodland detours along the way.
Park rangers at the Maiella National Park were able to track the bear’s journey through a satellite collar.
Juan had spent 18 days walking between the valleys of Abruzzo to return ‘home’.
Luciano Di Martino, director of the Maiella National Park, told La Repubblica: ‘This mammal has accomplished an extraordinary feat: he practically went around the entire Maiella, climbed the valleys and peaks, passed through inaccessible areas, moving for over 150 kilometres, until he returned where we had taken it.
‘It’s a bad thing to say from a nature point of view, but for him, it seems natural to be in Roccaraso, where there is activity, people and other animals.’
Juan had initially been banished from Roccaraso after a high-profile break-in at a local bakery.
He scoffed an entire afternoon’s worth of biscuits before fleeing to the forest – leaving a trail of crumbs and metal trays behind him.
The crime was too much for authorities to bear, and Juan was exiled to a remote area in the mountains.
But the homesick bear made his way back home a week later.
The world has grown to love the Italian animal and, following news of his most recent return to Roccaraso, took to social media to share their joy.
‘Viva Juan Carrito!’ wrote one Twitter user, and ‘I LOVE JUAN CARRITO’ proclaimed another.
But local residents are torn on the best course of action for the bear.
On Facebook, Rosalba Mazza wrote: ‘I hope no one puts food in Carrito because his habitat is the mountains, not the city, so we have to hope that he will return there.’
And resident Cesidio Antonio Sforza added: ‘This bear, he uprooted the net in my garden, he broke the branches of a dozen apple trees, and destroyed 30 apple trees in my uncle’s land worth €100.
‘I’d love him too if you show me how and why.’
But others said attempts to banish the bear would be fruitless.
Max Pipolo wrote: ‘It’s useless now, Roccaraso is Juan Carrito’s house.’
And Lina Di Salvo added: ‘He has come back home… one love.’
And Sandro Forte warned: ‘Dear friends of Roccaraso, I ask you to remove all the videos of the bear, because they will inevitably contribute to his capture and imprisonment.’
The Marsican bear population across the area has dwindled to an estimated 65 over the past two decades, thought to be the result of illegal hunting or the animals being hit by vehicles.
In 2019, the Italian branch of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) warned the animal faced extinction.