Bear sightings on the rise in Russia's Far East
Three bear sightings in Russia's Primorye (Maritime) Territory in two weeks are unusual and may have been caused by a rise in bear population in the region or by young bears' recklessness, Sergey Aramilev from the Amur branch of World Wildlife Fund Russia told RIA Novosti on Monday.
A week earlier police in Nakhodka shot a bear that had wandered into the city and threatened local residents.
"The incident in Nakhodka is different from the other two in that it involved a bear cub, whose origins have still not been established. It may have escaped from captivity since it displayed some signs of a domesticated animal. Whereas the incident in Chuguyevka is completely out of the ordinary," Aramilev said.
He went on to add that the population of bears in Russia's Primorye (Maritime) Territory in recent years had grown considerably.
This has to do with the fact that bear hunting in the region, and Russia as a whole, is not very popular: it is a specialist pursuit, very dangerous and risky; besides bear meat is not as tasty as that of hoofed animals.
"Thus, bear population growth may result in that the animals are sighted in residential areas. Although this is not very typical of bears: they can eat plants, which are abundant in the forests at the moment. A big population may of course result in a shortage of food supply, but not to such an extent," Aramilev pointed out.
He went on to add that a team of experts had left for the scenes of the two attacks and, according to preliminary findings, these two incidents involved two different bears. The one in Chuguyevka was a young bear, about a year old.
There were reports that a she-bear with a cub had been seen near the village and if the mother was killed, the cub, having been left on its own, may well have behaved irrationally.
"Early autumn is the end of the honey-flow season and often beehives are left on the edge of the village or right in vegetable gardens. The young bear may have been attracted by honey. It is very important to establish all the circumstances of the incident and to find out what provoked the attack. The other incident, in the village of Samarka, remains unclear. A team of experts are now working at the scene," Aramilev said.
He added that if caught, the bears will be killed.
"Having attacked a human once, a bear can do it again. From the moment a bear understands that a human being is weaker, it becomes dangerous. Killing several bears will not affect the bear population, which has become more numerous as it is," he concluded.
First published in Russian by RIA Novosti