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Bruno's hunters jumped the gun.

A GERMAN businessman plans to sue the hunter who shot dead a celebrity bear he had pictured on hundreds of T-shirts and baseball caps.

Underneath a picture of Bruno the bear, who evaded hunters for six weeks, Peter Nesselthaler printed the slogan: "You'll never catch me."

The merchandise was run up at the weekend to cash in on tourists flocking to the area to catch a glimpse of the bear with an apparently charmed life.

But Bruno's luck ran out yesterday when he was shot near Miesbach in Germany.

An investigation has begun because the hunt had been suspended to give animal trackers a chance to catch him alive.

Hunters were given permission to shoot the bear last month after he started killing sheep in the border area between Bavaria, Germany, and Tyrol, Austria.

But he remained on the run - until yesterday.

Nesselthaler, 35, from Munich, said: "I can't believe they did it. He had not harmed anyone.

"I am going to demand damages for all the merchandise I had printed for the bear tourists that I will not b e able to sell now."

In neighbouring Austria, Manfred Furtner, head of the local hoteliers association, said: "It's a disaster that he is gone.

"He was the best free advertising we have had for years. Neither the locals nor visitors were afraid of him."

CAPTION(S):

SHOT DEAD: Bear
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jun 27, 2006
Words:229
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