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Town under siege from 'bear invasion'

By The Siberian Times reporter
03 September 2015

At least eight black bears killed in terrorised Luchegorsk as starving wild animals roam streets and go on the attack. 

Up to 36 bears are reported to be circling the town, in what one resident compared to a military operation. Picture: Yuriy Smityuk

The bear blockade in this settlement of 20,000 has been underway since early August with many locals scared to go outside. Up to 36 bears are reported to be circling the town, in what one resident compared to a military operation. Dramatic accounts from locals highlight the fear - and the scale of the invasion by the hungry Asian black bears. 

'Our hunters say that they looked at the area from a helicopter - there are crowds of these bears, like army units,' said one female resident, blaming flooding and lack of food in the forest for the influx. 

'My friends told me bears smashed their three yards where they keep bees. We are scared to walk outside. All doors are shut in kindergartens, there are written warnings everywhere walking with kids is allowed only in certain areas. 

'But the worst thing is that until recent days everyone kept silent, as if nothing was happening. Only yesterday it changed. Many hunters arrived, rescue team people, many police are in the streets. In the office, all of us got instructions what to do if a bear attacks.'

Bear invasion in Luchegorsk

Luchegorsk is located between the cities of Vladivostok and Khabarovsk, and close to the Chinese frontier. Picture: The Siberian Times

Lesana Mairansayeva said: 'I am now in Luchegorsk and, to be honest, it's really scary. 36 bears have been seen here. People were told not to go outside when it's dark, and even at daytime try to be around other people.' 

Loud speaker messages have urged people in Luchegorsk 'not to leave your houses for your own safety'. Some reports including Vladivostok News said that one man was killed by an aggressive bear - and a number of other attacks were confirmed.

Dramatic dashcam footage showed one bear overpower a resident close to his apartment block. Witnesses says that policemen are using their hand guns to kill bears rampaging in the streets because marksmen with rifles were not on the scene. 

'They are opening fire right in the streets and cruelly killing the animals, and not just with one shot,' said one. 'About eight bears were already killed. Not long ago we heard at least seven shots in the backyards at night and a little bear cub was killed. There are about 30 other bears in the neighbourhood and I think they want to kill all of them.'

A woman told Prima Media: 'A little bear came to the apartment blocks in the town's 2nd district, about 11-20pm. He was shot dead right the doorstep of a block. And next morning near the lake a big female bear was killed.'

Bear invasion in Luchegorsk


Viktor Dubitsky


Viktor Dubitsky


Bear invasion in Luchegorsk

Viktor Dubitsky said: 'The bear jumped from under the balcony and I saw it flying towards me with lather on its muzzle.' Pictures: OTV

On 21 August a bear attacked a man who was walking his dog in the 1st district of Luchegorsk. The man's arm was savaged and footage showed blood on the ground from the attack. Another man was injured by a bear not far from the bus station.

At one point the local fire brigade was forced to use hoses to force away the bears. Police used their car siren to scare away another beast near the town's beach. 

Viktor Dubitsky, whose attack was filmed by dashcam, said: 'The bear jumped from under the balcony and I saw it flying towards me with lather on its muzzle. The only thing I managed to do was to lift my arms. The bear hit me into the chest and knocked me down, and I was sent flying for two metres on my bottom.'

Another local citizen Alexei Tishkov, survived a bear attack by a 'miracle'. 'I struggled somehow, I broke out and ran away, and the bear went off in a different direction,' he said. Tishkov who is still in hospital recovering from his injuries. 

Luchegorsk is located between the cities of Vladivostok and Khabarovsk, and close to the Chinese frontier. Some bears may have migrated from China.

Vladimir Vasiliev, director hunting supervision department in Primorsky region, described it as an 'invasion' by bears. 'Hunters and policemen acting together have managed to push away all the bears from the town,' he said. 'The law enforcement people are using horns of their cars to scare the bears and also shoot into the air.'

Alexei Tishkov


Bear invasion in Luchegorsk


Bear invasion in Luchegorsk

Alexei Tishkov: 'I struggled somehow, I broke out and ran away, and the bear went off in a different direction.' Pictures: OTV, LJ

Some bears had to be killed because of the threat to inhabitants, he said. 'We had to neutralise them because they were really dangerous for people and tried to attack them.' Some locals say there was a tardy response from officials. 

Pavel Fomenko, WWF coordinator, said that bear siege was caused by the lack of food in forests. 'Last year the pignoli nut crop was enormous, and usually a year later it is rather small. There are no nuts for eating this year. And there are problems with acorns in some places,' he said.

In the last five years, the bear population has dramatically grown.

'The bears are not threatened by the hunters, they are not in the Red Book for rare species any longer. The hunters can hunt, but they are not keen: the meat is not valued,' he said. The animals are searching for food but cannot  find enough. Some are migrating south from Khabarovsk region, and others could be coming from China, he said. 

Elsewhere in Siberia and the Russia Far East, there have been repeated reports of brown bears encroaching into towns and villages. 

Comments (1)

i think its a shame to kill them, could they not tranquillise them? we are losing so much wild life to extinction, they are beautiful animals . after all they are hungry ,only looking for food. amazing they surrounded the town like a miltary unit! I love Russia and all its diversities its a beautiful country and fascinating i believe the Russians are kind to their animals please dont kill them God created a beautiful world for all of us to live in .
maryann, brighton united kingdom
11/02/2018 19:26
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