A brown bear has been sentenced to death after attacking two hikers in Italy.

Animal rights groups have called for the mammal to receive a stay of execution following the attack.

Fabio Misseroni, 59, and his son Christian Misseroni, 28, were hiking on Mount Peller in Trentino, Italy last Monday when the animal jumped onto the path in front of them. 

The bear bit the younger man’s leg before his dad jumped on its back so his son could escape.

The intervention caused the raging bear to swipe at the older man, breaking his leg in three places.

The authorities have now sentenced the bear to death (stock photo)

The authorities have now sentenced the bear to death (stock photo) (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

In a bid to save his father, Christian jumped up and down and clapped his hands.

He successfully distracted the animal, which ran off into the woods.

Following the attack Trentino governor Maurizio Fugatti signed a cull order allowing for the capture and killing of the bear.

Italy’s National Institute for Environmental Protection and Research regulations calls for bears that attack humans to be euthanized, CNN reported.

The order prompted a hunt for the animal led by the authorities, who are trying to identify it using saliva and fur left in the wounds suffered by father and son.

The father and son were hiking in Trentino (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Surveillance cameras and a DNA database are used by officials in the region to track bears, following a number of attacks in recent years.

However, some animal rights supporters believe that the bear should not be hunted until the full circumstances of the attack become clear.

A petition launched by World Wide Fund for Nature calling for a ban on the death sentence for the bear had received 21,000 signatures by Monday.

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The sentiment was echoed by Italian environment minister Sergio Costa, who suggested the animal may have been a mother protecting her cubs.

In a letter to Gov Fugatti he wrote: “Only after collecting certain scientific information on the animal involved in the accident with the two citizens we will be able to evaluate technical solutions that, in my opinion, must not result in killing the animal.”