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Ian Frazier

Lost but happy eating fish: the polar bear that strayed 700 km too far south

By The Siberian Times reporter
29 September 2017

Far from the Arctic snow and ice, in brown bear territory, the adventurous two year old is soon to take a river trip back home.

It was spotted by river transport workers, before being filmed on 20 September by a hunter. Picture: Ministry of Nature Protection of Yakutia

Exactly how Umka the daredevil polar bear ventured so far south from its usual habitat is not known, but this video shows the beast - probably a female - on the banks of the Kolyma River almost 700 kilometres south of the normal habitat for these animals. 

In fact, there maybe two bears in the vicinity: a smaller-looking bear was seen in the village of Sylgy Ytar in Srednekolymsky district engaging with local dogs before disappearing. 

Polar bear on Kolyma


Polar bear on Kolyma

One theory was that the bear lost its mother - and then got hopelessly lost trying to find her. Pictures: Ministry of Nature Protection of Yakutia

Umka, the bear on the river looks larger. It was spotted by river transport workers, before being filmed on 20 September by a hunter. 

On 22 September, eyewitnesses reported the lost bear's location to the Ministry of Nature Protection of Yakutia, and Ivan Belonogov, head of the Central Kolyma Inspectorate for Nature Protection, went to check out the animal.

He estimated it as a two year old female. 

One theory was that the bear lost its mother - and then got hopelessly lost trying to find her. 

On 22 September, eyewitnesses reported the lost bear's location to the Ministry of Nature Protection of Yakutia.

But it is rare indeed for polar bears to venture this far away from the Arctic seas and ocean. 

The latest location for the animal is some 150 km north of the town of Srednekolymsk - on the bank of the Kolyma River, close to a popular fishing spot.

Locals were urged not to feed the bear but the beast is happily guzzling throwaways by local fishermen. 

Polar bear on Kolyma


Polar bear on Kolyma

A smaller-looking bear was seen in the village of Sylgy Ytar in Srednekolymsky district engaging with local dogs before disappearing.  Pictures: Ykt.ru

Viktor Nikiforov, a polar bear expert at the Scientific-Expeditional Centre Nautical Mammals, said: 'If it's an adult animal, then it's better not to touch it. 

'It is necessary to stop completely its feeding, and in case of its approach to buildings to scare it away with all available means to develop an animal's instinct that people should be avoided.' 

Locals were urged not to feed the bear but the beast is happily guzzling throwaways by local fishermen. 

Yet the bear seems to be finding food in the river, although its long term chances are not seen as good in this area, with brown bears liable to attack.

The aim now is to put the bear to sleep with a tranquilliser and lift it into a cage. This will be loaded onto a passing river ship of the Kolyma Shipping Company, and taken to Green Cape.

There Umka will be loaded on a ship departing to the Arctic Ocean, and the bear will be released near the Kotelny islands. 

The latest location for the animal is some 150 km north of the town of Srednekolymsk - on the bank of the Kolyma River.

Map

Comments (2)

Small bear an albino brown ?
Ed Dobson, Bluff Utah USA
10/10/2017 05:58
0
0
lets just hope the bear stays out of harms way. and no trigger happy clown will kill him or her or both, if there are two.
Benedikt MORAK, Moscow
30/09/2017 12:21
8
0
1

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