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Competition to train laika dogs in Yakutia, testing their skills on a chained bear

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13 April 2017


These contests are held all around Yakutia. Picture: Maria Yegorova

The bear is tethered to a chain which runs on a cable, allowing the animal some restricted movement, although escape is impossible. 

The aim of the decades-old contest is to assess the dogs for their ability to contain and control the bear. 

Organisers say there is new interest from the Russian army in skilled dogs, as the military expands operations in the Arctic, and comes face to face with polar bears.

These contests are held all around Yakutia, also known as the Sakha republic, the largest constituent area of the Russian Federation, almost as large as India. 

Some 80 laika breeders compete for the top prize, a snowmobile. 

Nikolay Chepurnikh, an All-Russian Laika Test expert, said: 'The competitions are really simple. 

'A dog is let off a leash to follow a bear's trace. 

'If the bear tries to escape, a dog should stop it. 

'This is how we assess a dog's hunting potential.'

There are dogs that can actually harm a bear. Picture: Maria Yegorova

But expert Valentin Zaitsev, chairman of the jury, at the finals, said: 'I've been visiting competitions since 2014.

'I don't remember a single case when a dog bit a bear so that it bled. 

'There are dogs that can actually harm a bear. 

'But I think animal rights defenders simply don't have enough information. 

'Here, a bear isn't tortured, its claws and teeth are not cut.' 

Only laikas - native to this area of Siberia - are allowed to take part in the competition. 

Experts say that in the event of a bear attack in the wild, only laikas are expected to escape.  

In pictures from the final, which was held on Hunter's Day, a brown bear called Masha was playing the 'victim'.

Founder of Bayanay hunting club Alexander Kononov said: 'Masha was one year old when we took her from a zoo. 

One of the factors of the mark is the coherence of the dog's work. Picture: Maria Yegorova

'They had too many bears, and they eagerly agreed to pass her into our hands.

'Since that day she has lived a very comfortable life. 

'We built her a den.

'She is very lucky, as usually single brown bear cubs don't survive alone. 

'Today is her one and only working day in the year. 

'She is now eight years old and is very used to dogs.' 

Other pictures shown here are from a qualifying contest in Maya village, Megino-Khangalass district, some 66 kilometres from Yakutsk. 

Photographer Maria Yegorova said: 'The bear was sleepy or seemed like this, because at every opportunity it laid down to rest. 

'Judges observe and evaluate certain elements of the work of dogs. 

'The dogs usually work in pairs.

'One of the factors of the mark is the coherence of the dog's work. 

'This is the coordination of actions when working,  the ability of the dogs to search together, to obey voice commands and help in a joint attack, giving mutual assistance. 

Spitefulness is pronounced aggressiveness towards the beast. Picture: Maria Yegorova

'Another factor is their spitefulness and quickness of the grip.

Spitefulness is pronounced aggressiveness towards the beast.'

'The quickness of the 'grip' means  the correctness and strength of the bites.'

The dog is also marked on its dexterity.

She says this is the 'swiftness and ease of the dog's movements when it barks at the beast and attacks it. I

'It  is also about the ability of a dog to dodge attacks from the beast.

The aim is to 'pursue the moving bear, preventing its movement', she said.

Critics voice their concern with comments like 'Why torture the animal?' and 'So sorry for the bear'. 

Comments (4)

This is absurd, I thought that in Russia people were more enlightened and intelligent, a pity, they are ignorant !!! This must end, it's a stupid thing, I do not know how the people do not complain and this is closed! SHAME!!
Leonardo, São Paulo/ Brasil
18/04/2017 03:03
This is horrible!! P
Kristine lee , Atlanta, Ga
16/04/2017 05:47
This is absolutely ridiculous and deserves ALL the ridicule to be given. NO animal is 'is lucky' in this scenario. Participants in this DIGUST me.
Mariah Mc, Fort Collins, United States
15/04/2017 20:45
Animal welfare organizations worldwide condemn "bear-baiting" (dogs attacking chained bears) as one of the most cruel and sadistic uses of animals. Bear-baiting has been outlawed in most countries of the world, and until reading this article I thought that it was only prevalent in Pakistan. It is shocking that Russia would allow a former zoo bear to be mistreated in this way.
Kim Rogers Bartlett, Clinton WA USA
15/04/2017 04:23

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