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article imageRussian bears snacking in graveyards

By Lynn Curwin     Oct 27, 2010 in World
Bears in one area of northern Russia have started digging up and eating human corpses, and locals believe it is due to a shortage of their traditional food near the Arctic Circle.
Two women from the village of Vezhnya Tchova, near the Arctic Circle, saw what looked like a large man in a fur coat leaning over a grave on October 22. When they got closer they realized it was a bear eating a body. When they cried out the bear quickly left the area, reported Moskovsky Komsomelets.
The paper reported that bears had recently been seen at the rubbish bin near apartment buildings, and that one had eaten most of the carrots in one person’s garden. One young man had also been mauled.
Komi Oleg Krasnov, the region’s chief of civil defense and emergency administration, said there are no berries or mushrooms, and the bears need to eat.
He said he thinks some of the bears will be shot by hunters and poachers.
"They are really hungry this year. It's a big problem. Many of them are not going to survive," The Guardian quoted Simion Razmislov, the vice-president of Komi's hunting and fishing society, as saying.
Masha Vorontsova, Director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) in Russia, said that in Karelia, two years ago, a bear learned how to open a coffin and then taught others.
She said something very noisy, such as fireworks, would frighten the animals away.
She felt that there would have been plenty of fish and ants for the bears to feed on this years, and that they raided graveyards because they a provided a supply of easy food.
The bear population in Russia is estimated to be between 120,000 and 140,000. The biggest is wealthy people who kill the large males for trophies.
Many of the black bears near the Chinese border have been killed by poachers who sell their body parts in markets.
The Russian government is working on legislation banning the killing of bears during the winter breeding season.
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