The brown bear is believed to have been ‘brutally ambushed’ by poachers on Monday, authorities at the Monte Marrone national park said.
The Marsican bear, a protected species in Europe, was shot in the head several times at the park, which is located between Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise, La Stampa reported.
Park authorities said "those responsible for this went there specifically to kill the bear."
They added that they are determined to catch those behind it and will this week present a complaint to the public prosecutor of Isernia, the province responsible for the park.
The WWF called on the government to take immediate action. In a statement, the organization said it was “unacceptable” that, in 2013, a bear has been shot. “It is even more unacceptable that this should happen in a protected natural area.”
The WWF said the offense “can’t be left unpunished” and pointed to similar cases in the past, including the death of three bears in late 2007, all of which remain unexplained, as well the poisoning of numerous other animals.
"The situation is very serious and requires efforts from all the institutions to put a stop to this phenomena and preserve this species from extinction," the WWF concluded.