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City in Siberia under siege from bears, say locals

By The Siberian Times reporter
13 September 2012

The authorities in Bratsk have received more than 60 calls from residents complaining of bears on the streets and close to houses.

Bears are coming out because of poor crops of berries and nuts. Picture: Pazhetnov family

The hungry creatures were sighted in the suburbs and heading towards the city in Irkutsk region, said Baikal 24 Info Service. Due to poor growth of berries and nuts this year, the bears are turning to urban areas in search of food, raiding bins and rubbish heaps. 

Reports said that city officials are meeting to decide how to tackle the problem. 

'The plan is to form groups of hunters, who will be permitted to shoot the bears, with increased number of police patrols to ensure safety on streets,' said the news agency. 

'All regional authorities call for locals to urgently get rid of rubbish dumps containing food on the outskirts of the city, as this is attracting the animals.'

Bratsk is a city of 246,000 people on the Angara River. Locals say there has been a rise in the number of bears in the area which is also adding to the problem. 

In recent weeks there have been a number of reports of bears approaching residential areas in Siberia. A bear stealing cattle was shot in Novosibirsk region last week after it killed a bull in a village. Two policemen were called in to shoot the creature.

A day earlier a bear attacked a man in Khakassia region. He reach hospital unaided but his condition was said to be serious. 

The hungry bears can be aggressive and police have warned locals in a number of areas to take extreme care collecting mushrooms or picking berries. 

Rangers are also warning tourists of the dangers of bears in the Stolby Nature Reserve in Krasnoyarsk. 

Around 30 brown bears are known to live there and in recent years tracks used by walkers have had to be closed due to fears of attacks. 

Specialist Vladimir Kozhechkin said: 'Most of the predators don't come close to people. But lately, tourists and staff of the reserve keep meeting the animals. 

'It happens because this year there is not enough food for the bears. That's why they more often come to people, their houses, to places where tourists regularly stop in the hope of getting some food.'


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