brown bear attack
A man who was attacked by a female brown bear in the Italian Alps was saved by his barking dog (file photo)ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images

A large female brown bear is being hunted in the Italian Alps after she attacked a lone hiker and tried to tear open the man's throat before he was saved by his dog.

Angelo Metlicovec, 69, was walking in the mountains near Lago di Lamar in the province of Trento when he felt something approach from behind. The bear bit chunks out of the man's arms and legs before his barking dog Kira distracted the animal for a second, allowing Metlicovec to scramble down a slope to safety.

"He whirled round but had no time to react before the bear bit into his leg," Metlicovec's son, Andrea, told Italian newspaper Trentino.

"It then went for his throat, but dad got his arm in the way, which the bear bit chunks out of. Luckily Kira started barking, distracting the bear for a second, allowing my father to leap into a gully by the path as the bear took off after Kira," he said.

Metlicovec is in hospital recovering from an operation to his hands. His son said his father is "very strong" but unable to sleep as "he sees the bear in front of him".

A spokesperson for the province said the attacking animal is believed to be a female bear known as KJ2, which previously mauled a jogger in the same area two years ago.

"We are putting out three traps, and any bear caught will be sedated with a dart. We'll then take blood and hair samples, put a tracker collar on the bear and release it. If the samples match those left on Mr Metlicovec's jacket, we will track the bear, tranquillise it again and keep it in captivity or put it down," he said.

The bear was given a radio collar after she attacked the jogger in 2015, but managed to rid herself of it and has escaped the clutches of trackers ever since.

Animal rights group LAV condemned the hunt. "Bears didn't choose to come back but were brought back by the province. Real bears are not teddy bears or targets," they said.