A wild bear on the prowl in the forests of Tyrol is being feted by locals after inadvertently helping unravel the mystery of a missing man.

According to officers, the brown bear, which for several weeks had been rampaging in the area close to the border between Austria and Switzerland, knocked down a tree which fell on an electricity pylon and started the blaze. Police and firefighters called to the remote region discovered the body of a man who had been reported missing by his wife two days earlier.

The 100kg, two and a half year old animal has been dubbed Inspector Bear by locals, in place of his less catchy scientific label, M13.

A spokesman for Tyrolean state police said: "This is an ongoing investigation, so I cannot give more information, other than to say we consider the bear to be innocent."

The man has been identified as Peter Hilber, 40, who was known to move in criminal circles, according to the police.

M13 and his brother, M12, have been living in the border region between Austria, Switzerland and Italy for several weeks. M13 has wreaked havoc in some areas, overturning bee hives and killing a goat.

Both animals come from a repopulation programme in Trentino, northern Italy, which produced a bear called Bruno, which caused havoc in the region in 2006 and was shot dead by hunters.

The whereabouts of M12 and M13 are being monitored by a GPS tag around their necks which sends text messages relaying their whereabouts to the authorities every seven hours. M13 was also in a collision with a Swiss train on Monday night but was not believed to have been seriously injured.

© Guardian News and Media 2012

[Brown bear via David Dohnal / Shutterstock]