Drones were being used in the search for the cubs, LaPresse said.
The head of World Wildlife Fund’s Italy office, Luciano Di Tizio, called the bear’s slaying a “very grave, unjustifiable crime of nature” and the result of a “constant campaign against wildlife”.
The motherless cubs aren’t yet self-sufficient and therefore at high risk, which has triggered the search for them in the park, Di Tizio said.
“A self-assured, but completely peaceful bear, Amarena was part of the collective imagination and was the subject of pride in a land that has, in the bear, a symbol” of local nature, he said.
Interactions between bears and people have taken on political connotations in Italy and landed in the courts. Earlier this year, an administrative court’s ruling spared, for now, the life of a brown bear that fatally attacked a runner on a mountain trail in Italy’s Alpine region.
Political authorities in the region had issued an order to have the 17-year-old female bear, known as Jj4, euthanised. A court hearing on the bear’s fate is expected in December. Animal rights groups have challenged the order to put down the bear.
The brown Marsican bear killed on Thursday is a subspecies that is genetically different from alpine bears.
Italian state TV said on Friday that Amarena was the mother of another one of the park’s bears that met a violent end. That bear, which was fatally struck by a car earlier this year, earned national fame when it broke into a bakery and munched on cookies.