Voices from Russia

Saturday, 2 November 2013

2 November 2013. Bears 1, Russians 1, and a Drawn Contest… The Match Continues

00k Bears of Lake Kurilsk. Kamchatka. 15.11.12


On Monday, the local MVD said that a 55-year-old resident of the Sakha Republic in Siberia stabbed a bear to death with a knife when the animal attacked him. A male bear attacked the man when he visited his horses in a remote enclosure about 50 kilometres (31 miles) from his home village. The cops said, “The bear attacked him when he was feeding his horses. The man stayed calm and resisted the attack… he took out a knife and managed to stab the animal several times and kill it”. The man sustained numerous wounds to his head and face; he went to hospital. Doctors said that his condition wasn’t life-threatening.


On Tuesday, local officials in the Russian Far East said they had to call in the cops after someone spotted a brown bear and its cub wandering about near a sports stadium. Recently, a spike in bear activity near residential areas in the remote Kamchatka Peninsula worried authorities as it put people’s lives at risk. Locals noticed the bears at the Spartak Stadium in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky at approximately 22.30 local time Monday night. The local MVD said that there were no people in the stadium at the time. Police went to the stadium in a patrol car and blew their horn to scare away the bears. The animals retreated to a nearby hill, about one kilometre (2/3 mile) from the Kamchatka Krai local government building. There’s been a marked rise in bear activity on the Kamchatka Peninsula. Rangers at the Kamchatka Volcanoes National Park had to shoot fifteen animals dead between May and October for posing a threat to people.


Local television reported that an elderly shepherd in the North Caucasus survived a bear attack by fighting off the animal with kicks and headbutts. Yusuf Alchagirov, 80, also tried to stab the bear when the beast approached him in a raspberry field in Kabardino-Balkaria, but he said that the animal knocked his knife away. Alchagirov told the regional affiliate of VGTRK TV that the ensuing tussle culminated in the bear, enraged by the headbutt, throwing Alchagirov off a cliff and walking away. Alchagirov was briefly in hospital with bruises, bite wounds, and four broken ribs. His family baked him three traditional pies to celebrate his survival. He said on TV, “I got off easy. It would’ve killed me if I’d chickened out”. The incident took place last week, but national media didn’t pick it up until Wednesday. Locals told the media that they didn’t hunt down the bear because they believed it was only playing with Alchagirov.

7/22/30 October 2013





Sunday, 20 October 2013

20 October 2013. A Photo Essay. Братья наши меньшие… Our Smaller Brothers

00 Our Smaller Brothers 01. 20.10.13. Moscow Dog Show

International dog show Russia-2013 in Moscow (Federal City of Moscow. Central Federal District) RF 


00 Our Smaller Brothers 02. 20.10.13. Monument to Semyon the Cat. Murmansk RF

Children gather around a monument dedicated to Semyon the Cat in Murmansk (Murmansk Oblast. Northwestern Federal District) RF. Semyon gained wide recognition in Russia after he travelled for 6½ years, covering 2,000 kilometres (1,243 miles)… the distance between Moscow and his home in Murmansk 


00 Our Smaller Brothers 03. 20.10.13. Lime the Snowy Owl. Krasnoyarsk RF

Zoo employee Daria Zhirnova feeds Lime, a 6-week-old Snowy Owl chick, at the Royev-Ruchey Zoo in a suburb of the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk (Krasnoyarsk Krai. Siberian Federal District) RF 


00 Our Smaller Brothers 03a. 20.10.13. Great Grey Owl. Krasnoyarsk RF

Zoo employee Daria Zhirnova trains a wild Great Gray Owl inside a cage at the Royev-Ruchey Zoo, Krasnoyarsk (Krasnoyarsk Krai. Siberian Federal District) RF


00 Our Smaller Brothers 04. 20.10.13. Bear cubs. Bear Rescue Centre. Bubonitsy RF

Bear cubs walk inside the forest enclosure of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) Bear Rescue Centre (near the Chisty Les (Чистый Лес: Pure Forest) Biostation), near the village of Bubonitsy (Pozhinskoe Rural Settlement. Toropetsky Raion. Tver Oblast. Central Federal Oblast) RF, 350 kilometres (218 miles) northwest of Moscow


00 Our Smaller Brothers 05. 20.10.13. Bear cubs. Bear Rescue Centre. Bubonitsy RF

Bear cubs at the IFAW Bear Rescue Centre, Bubonitsy (Pozhinskoe Rural Settlement. Toropetsky Raion. Tver Oblast. Central Federal Oblast) RF


00 Our Smaller Brothers 06. 20.10.13. Bear cubs. Bear Rescue Centre. Bubonitsy RF

Bear cubs at the IFAW Bear Rescue Centre, Bubonitsy (Pozhinskoe Rural Settlement. Toropetsky Raion. Tver Oblast. Central Federal Oblast) RF


00 Our Smaller Brothers 07. 20.10.13. Sighthounds. Italian Greyhounds. Yekaterinburg RF

Italian Greyhounds participate in a sighthound racing hunt for a mechanical hare during the Federation National Russian Dog Championships in Yekaterinburg (Sverdlovsk Oblast. Ural Federal District) RF 


00 Our Smaller Brothers 08. 20.10.13. Dog. VDV Day. Moscow RF

A dog dressed in VDV beret and a telnyashka during the celebration of Airborne Forces Day in Moscow (Federal City of Moscow. Central Federal District) RF


00 Our Smaller Brothers 09. 20.10.13. Baltic Grey Seal cub. Repino RF

A Baltic Grey Seal cub inside a temporary rehabilitation centre in Repino (Kurotny Raion. Federal City of St Petersburg. Northwestern Federal District) RF, outside St Petersburg proper


00 Our Smaller Brothers 10. 20.10.13. Polar Bears. St Petersburg RF

Polar Bears Uslada (left) and Menshikov investigate the contents of a parcel that zookeepers delivered to their enclosure for International Polar Bear Day at the St Petersburg Zoo, St Petersburg (Petrogradsky RaionFederal City of St Petersburg. Northwestern Federal District) RF


00 Our Smaller Brothers 11. 20.10.13. Circus Bear. St Petersburg RF

Mikhail, a trainer from a travelling circus troupe based in Moscow, grooms Masha, an 11 year-old bear, during rehearsals at the Bolshoi Circus on the Fontanka in St Petersburg (Central RaionFederal City of St Petersburg. Northwestern Federal District) RF


00 Our Smaller Brothers 12. 20.10.13. Watchdog. Tara. Omsk Oblast RF

Watchdog in Tara (Tarsky RaionOmsk Oblast. Siberian Federal District) RF


00 Our Smaller Brothers 13. 20.10.13. Far Eastern White Whales. Vladivostok RF

Grigori Sirenko, an employee of the Primorye Aquarium, Far Eastern Department, Russian Academy of Sciences (RAN), engaged in training Far Eastern White Whales at the open-air enclosure in Paris Bay on Russky Island, Vladivostok (Primorsky Krai. Far Eastern Federal District) RF


00 Our Smaller Brothers 14. 20.10.13. Almaz the White Lion. Krasnoyarsk RF

Almaz, a three-year-old male White African Lion, plays with a pumpkin inside his enclosure during the Zoo Halloween Weekend event at the Royev-Ruchey Zoo in Krasnoyarsk (Krasnoyarsk Krai. Siberian Federal District) RF


00 Our Smaller Brothers 15. 20.10.13. Liliger. Novosibirsk RF

Kiara, a Liliger, a hybrid cross between Ligress Zita and Lion Sam, was born in the Novosibirsk Zoo, Novosibirsk (Novosibirsk Oblast. Siberian Federal District) RF


00 Our Smaller Brothers 16. 20.10.13. Goose Fight. Pavlovsk RF

Spectators at a traditional goose fight in Pavlovsk (Pavlovsky Raion. Voronezh Oblast. Central Federal District) RF, some 450 kilometres (280 miles) outside Moscow


00 Our Smaller Brothers 17. 20.10.13. Polar Bear cub. Moscow RF

A newborn Polar Bear cub with its mother at the Moscow ZooMoscow (Presnensky Raion. Central Okrug. Federal City of Moscow. Central Federal District) RF


00 Our Smaller Brothers 18. 20.10.13. Cheetah. Moscow RF

Frank the Cheetah, who appears to be laughing, at the Moscow Zoo, Moscow (Presnensky Raion. Central Okrug. Federal City of Moscow. Central Federal District) RF


00 Our Smaller Brothers 19. 20.10.13. Polar Bear. Krasnoyarsk RF

Avrora, a one-year-old female Polar Bear cub, plays in a swimming pool at the Royev-Ruchey Zoo in Krasnoyarsk (Krasnoyarsk Krai. Siberian Federal District) RF


00 Two Russian cats. somewhere in Russia. 22.09.13

Two cats in a park grooming one another… somewhere in Russia


Sunday, 6 October 2013

Russia: Beware of Foodie-Bears!

Barbara-Marie Drezhlo. Was it Your Turn to Lick the Spoon. 2012


T-shirts in souvenir shops in Moscow’s Arbat tourist district read, “I’ve been to Russia, there are no bears”. The print mocks the popular stereotype that Russia’s all about endless cold winters, vodka, and bears have rescued a couple after a bear broke into their countryside home, attracted by the smell of fresh borshch. A patrol turned up in the early hours after a neighbour raised the alarm and found the couple hiding in their sauna, where they temporarily lived as their home was under renovation. Meanwhile, the bear enjoyed hot borshch in their garden. A warning shot was enough to scare the intruder back into the woods. No one was hurt, although the bear damaged the building. The couple said that they’d left the homemade borshch to cool on the porch and went to bed. They woke to “loud banging” and saw a bear breaking the windows of their glassed-in porch. Then, it got inside and treated himself to all the borshch, which was still hot and delicious. Often, people spotted bears looking for food around dachas in the area before, but happily, no one reported any attacks.

Although the case may seem funny to some Americans, but he who laughs last laughs best, as encounters between bears and humans are actually not that rare in the USA and Canada, and may far exceed those reported in Russia. Thus, recently, hungry grizzlies in Yellowstone National Park were really determined to share a meal with people. Since the area is popular with tourists, officials had to issue a warning after they recorded several bear attacks on visitors in the park straddling Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. Officials with the park and two national forests that border it said that numerous recent sightings of bears seeking berries and other foods near roadways and popular trails prompted them to issue the advisory, which called on campers to take precautions like carrying bear spray and hiking in groups. Some 600 federally-protected grizzly bears wander around Yellowstone and its border areas. Each year in the region there are about five encounters between bears and humans that result in injuries. Fatal attacks are rare.

In recent years, conservationists said that climate change caused a decline in whitebark pines, which produce the nuts that are a food source for grizzlies and black bears, forcing them to roam around, starving and frustrated. Late summer and early fall are typical times for encounters, as bears begin to seek out more food to pack on pounds before going into winter hibernation. At the same time, summer is the peak tourist season for national park visitors. In July 2010, a grizzly killed a camper and injured two others in a national forest in Montana near Yellowstone. The following year, in separate attacks, bears fatally wounded two hikers. On 15 August, a grizzly wounded two hikers at Yellowstone, but a second pair of hikers warded off the bear with bear spray. The same day, a grizzly bit two biologists collecting grizzly habitat data in Idaho near the park. The scientists drove off the bear with bear spray.

Meanwhile, Nevada wildlife officials pressed local governments near Lake Tahoe to penalise residents for not having bear-proof trashcans, saying that existing regulations to address trash-raiding black bears are insufficient. The Reno Gazette-Journal reported that Nevada Department of Wildlife Director Tony Wasley told trustees that they could address the vast majority of human-bear conflicts by decreasing the availability of human garbage. He said, “Ultimately, total removal of human food sources as an attractant for bears is the only way to avoid these types of human-bear conflicts”. Wasley also thought that it would help matters if the district enforced existing laws that penalise residents for being careless with their trash. Local jurisdictions already have rules on the books to address problems posed by trash-raiding bears, but many residents don’t think that they go far enough.

In the Canadian province of Ontario, the bear population dangerously grew to an alarming number. According to a recent census by the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, there are some 150,000 bears in Ontario; no one is entirely sure of really how many of them there are precisely. The bear population has increased every year since the cancellation of the spring bear hunt in 1999, and so has the number of incidents involving bears, including a vicious and unprovoked attack on a woman near Peterborough. Thus, some local activists favour an early season hunt.

In the northern part of the Canadian province of Manitoba, a polar bear chased and bit a man. Earlier this month, the bear chased Garett Kolsun whilst he was walking home after a night of celebrating with friends in Churchill. It cornered him on a porch, swiped at him with his paw, and sank its teeth into his hip until Kolsun said he managed to distract it with the light from his mobile, which allowed him to flee to safety. The Hudson Bay community has fame as the polar bear capital of the world, and it attracts tourists coming for at least one glimpse of the predator. Nevertheless, the animals pose a threat to residents, and when they’re captured, they’re kept in a holding facility that’s commonly referred to as the polar bear jail.

However, this particular offender got a new home in a Winnipeg zoo. Margaret Redmond, president of the Assiniboine Park Conservancy, said that, within the next few weeks, the bear would be transported from Churchill to the International Polar Bear Conservation Centre. Redmond said that this would be the first polar bear from the wild to be housed at the facility, which the conservancy opened last year. On Saturday, Redmond said, “Otherwise, it was determined that he was going to be euthanised because he was such a danger”. His new home will eventually be part of a new four-hectare (10 acres) exhibit, due to open next June, that profiles northern Canada’s animals and its fragile environment. Redmond said that she hasn’t personally spoken with Kolsun about how he feels about the polar bear’s new home in Winnipeg, but she said that provincial officials talked with him before the decision was made. Kolsun suffered only a few superficial puncture wounds and scratches from the attack. Redmond said, “He feels very good about this option, he sees that this is an opportunity for the animal, rather than having to be euthanised, to serve as an ambassador to his species in what will ultimately be a very large and comfortable area for the bear”.

That was a lucky escape for the Canadian bear, but his black pal captured after it wandered through Athol MA wasn’t that lucky, as Massachusetts Environmental Police euthanised it. They caught the bear after it climbed a tree and police tranquilised it. A spokesman for the state environmental affairs office told the Athol Daily News that, after that, the bear couldn’t be released in New Hampshire or Vermont, as both states are holding black bear hunting season; they have an agreement with Massachusetts that any “chemically immobilized” animal can’t be released into the wild within 45 days of the season’s start. It’s not hunting season in Massachusetts until November. However, the spokesman said Environmental Police euthanised the bear, instead of releasing it, because the chemicals used to tranquilise it are potentially fatal to any hunter who might shoot the bear, then eat it.

Another black bear felt at home in Gatlinburg TN and was caught on camera walking the city’s streets, climbing up the steps of the local convention centre, and even following the crosswalk to cross the street. ABC News said that Tricia Alexander captured a video of the bear, then, posted it to her Facebook page. She was sitting in her car, but not everyone had the good sense to keep at a distance. As the bear made its way through the city’s streets, weaving in and out of restaurant-goers, people clamoured to come within just feet of it in order to get a good picture of with their mobile-phone cameras. Dr Marcy Souza of the University of Tennessee School of Veterinary Medicine told local ABC affiliate WATE, “Unfortunately, a lot of people in our society are getting more desensitised to wild animals, as we move more and more into this digital age, and we don’t actually get out into the woods, so, you don’t encounter these animals very frequently except for on TV. Although he looks cute and cuddly, they can actually be pretty fierce. That bear probably weighed somewhere in the range of 800 pounds (363 kilogrammes) would be my guess, and they can do some serious damage if he got cornered as he did in some of those situations”.

A commenter on Alexander’s Facebook post wrote that he works near where the video was shot and the bear “comes around all the time”. Alexander herself commented that she had another encounter with a bear on the streets of Gatlinburg in 1997 in a hotel parking lot. The abovementioned cases are just a few in a string of human-bear encounters registered in bear-inhabited communities, so their residents should better not banter about Russians and their hungry bears. The borshch-eating bear was at least decent and well-behaved… he finished his meal and left like an Englishman… with no goodbye.

5 October 2013

Voice of Russia World Service


Siberian Couple Call for Backup as Bear Breaks In, Eats Up All Their Borshch

00 Happy bear. 06.10.13

Yum, yum! Ya got some golumpkies and pierogies to go with this?


Local cops said Saturday that a couple in remote Ust-Ilimsk, in Siberia, called for backup after seeing a wild bear break into their veranda and start eating their dinner. A statement on the Irkutsk Oblast MVD website said that they’d cooked borshch and left it in a saucepan on the veranda to cool. Loud noises in the night woke up the couple, who were sleeping in their sauna whilst their house was under renovation. Then, through the window, they saw a bear prowling around the porch. They called the local community manager who looks after the buildings in the dacha village, and watched, helpless, through their sauna window as the animal broke into their veranda and started eating the soup. The police got a call about the incident at about 01.00, and sent a team to investigate. Once at the scene, police fired shots into the air and managed to scare the bear back into the woods, but not before it had finished off all the borshch. The statement noted that there were several instances of hungry bears heading to inhabited areas and urged locals to be more careful about where they store food.

5 October 2013



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