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'In Siberia… the land is richly blessed and all that is needed is to make the most of it'
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Dramatic pictures show how dogs are trained to hunt as they attack captive bear

By The Siberian Times reporter
13 April 2015

Chained to a tree and bitten, five-year-old Masha is used as bait to hone skills in a competition to find the best hunter.

For some the only way to protect themselves is to have dogs that can track them down for hunters to kill in order to keep them away from communities. Picture: Spiridon Sleptsov

A photographer in the Russian Far East has captured images of a bear being attacked by dogs as part of a competition aimed to honing hunting skills.

Spiridon Sleptsov visited the Bayanay Hunting Club, near Yakutsk, and took photos of the five-year-old female chained to a tree as it attempted to fend off the dogs.

Attacks by bears on humans are a real possibility in many areas of Siberia and the Far East, particularly this year after warm weather brought forward the end of hibernation. For some the only way to protect themselves is to have dogs that can track them down for hunters to kill in order to keep them away from communities.

The 6th Republican competition was held on April 4 and 5 to find the best individual hunting dog and team, and marked the celebration of Hunter’s Day in the area.

Bear hunt


Bear hunt


Bear hunt


Bear hunt

Femal bear Masha, 5 yo, chained to a tree and attempting to fend off the dogs. Pictures: Spiridon Sleptsov

The dogs either came out to pit their wits against the bear on their own or in pairs, and at first had to stalk the animal from 100metres away using its scent. Owners are forbidden to interfere in the process or help and the dogs are given two minutes to find their target.

They are then judged, using a point scale of 100, on their ability to harass and cajole the bear long enough for a hunter to arrive on the scene in the real world and kill the animal.

Sleptsov said: 'Also an important criteria for evaluating the working abilities of the dogs were its barking voice and manner. Ideally after bursting into a loud bark the dog must attack the beast from behind, constantly twisting it around, thereby keeping the bear in one place and giving the hunter an idea of where to go.

'Rating the work in pairs took into account the coherence and mutual assistance between them. If only one of the dogs attacked the bear actively, the score was reduced and if the second dog did not pay attention to bear at all, the pair was disqualified.'

Bear hunt


Bear hunt


Bear hunt


Bear hunt


Bear hunt

Ideally after bursting into a loud bark the dog must attack the beast from behind, constantly twisting it around, thereby keeping the bear in one place and giving the hunter an idea of where to go. Pictures: Spiridon Sleptsov

To test how good the dogs were at being able to stop the bear from running away, following a special command the bear was led along a stretched rope. The dogs needed to stop the bear and draw attention to themselves, again as if waiting for a hunter to arrive.

'It was rather hard to calm the over-heated dogs,' said Sleptsov. 'Seeing that their owner was approaching, the dog began to bark at the beast with renewed energy and it took a lot of effort to pull them back from the bear. Fortunately for the owners there was not such a criteria as 'obedience' in the scoring list.'

Sleptsov said none of the participants got the first degree certificates and said that was because the dogs taking part were not experienced hunting animals, but were instead simply taking part in the competition for sport purposes.

The photographer made some observations about the bear, called Masha, who has been taking part in this competition for a number of years.

Bear hunt


Bear hunt


Bear hunt


Bear hunt


Bear hunt

'Despite her apparent slowness, Masha's attacks, like any wild animal, were extremely sharp and unexpected. In a split second she can turn 180 degrees to slap the abuser.' Picture: Spiridon Sleptsov

'Over the years Masha the bear has studied the psychology of dogs quite well. She almost immediately determines whether another dog is a problem for her or not. To aggressive dogs capable of painful bite, Masha's attitude was different. Despite her apparent slowness, Masha's attacks, like any wild animal, were extremely sharp and unexpected. In a split second she can turn 180 degrees to slap the abuser.

'To be fair, it should be noted that in all the years of holding such events, no dog has been injured by her paws and teeth. All the dogs were afraid of the bear. But with one dog Masha had time for good frolic. I don’t know why she did like this particular dog but for 10 to 15 minutes they played and ran around the paddock.

'When time was up, the bear was almost whining that the dog had left her.'

In the individual championship standings the champion was Western Siberian laika Erken while the doubles title was taken by West Siberian laika Mooyto and Yakut hunting laika Bayanay.

Comments (18)

Very saddened and angry to see a beautiful animal like this being used in this way. Why do people do this? It's cruel and disgraceful. The people involved should be ashamed of themselves. Let the bear go. NOW.
Rob, Canberra, Australia
14/04/2015 12:58
18
1
Very disgusting to see these pictures of cruelty, the human idiots who do this will suffer greatly later from their own bad karma. Stupid and cruel, ignorant and beastly. These humans are disgusting.
Tanya D., Canada
14/04/2015 10:38
14
1
What a shame! Competition for sport purposes where dogs constantly attack a bear that cannot escape these tortures. It is sad that a country which has chosen a bear as its national symbol allows this kind of human barbarity towards this wonderful creature. I really hope this article is a late 1st of April joke!
Anna, Khabarovsk
14/04/2015 02:04
19
2
12

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