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Frantic bid to save Umka the lost and forlorn polar bear who travelled 700 km in the wrong direction on ice floe

By The Siberian Times reporter
18 April 2019

Lame, exhausted and confused animal seeks out help from the local police in Olyutorsky district of Kamchatka.

He was spotted from Wednesday close to the police and prosecutors office in Tilichiki village. Picture: Leonid Shelapugin

The young male polar bear came from Chukotka on an ice floe. 

A look at our map will show how the lonesome predator has travelled south to the Kamchatka peninsula, far from his natural habitat to the north.

They say if you’re in trouble, go to the police and this is what the beast - now christened Umka by locals - did. 

He was spotted from Wednesday close to the police and prosecutors office in Tilichiki village, as if pleading for human help, and seemingly with a wounded front paw.

But it is clear the bear is unlikely to survive in alien territory without the right food unless he can be airlifted back towards the Arctic - and efforts are underway for this to happen. 

Polar bear in Tilichiki


Polar bear in Tilichiki


Polar bear in Tilichiki


Polar bear in Tilichiki


Polar bear in Tilichiki


Polar bear in Tilichiki

The young male polar bear came from Chukotka on an ice floe. Pictures: Leonid Shelapugin

Svetlana Gubareva, deputy head of the district, said: 'At first, the animal behaved quite actively. 

‘Locals filmed it on video, photographed it, and yesterday - fed with fish, though, he did not eat much. 

‘The bear looks drained and weak. 

‘For some reason he does not catch fish and seals, which we have in good supply.’

Nor has he threatened people.  

‘He did not even enter the village itself,’ she said. 

‘He lies near the bay on the ice - close to our police station. 

‘The police are watching him so that no one will approach him.' 

The bear is begging for help but can be a serious danger to those going too close.

Experts believe he has no chance to survive in Kamchatka.

The animal is disoriented and cannot get home on its own, they say.

Head of the State Hunting Supervision Department of the Regional Agency for Forestry and Wildlife Conservation Vladimir Gordienko commented: 'This can happen in frosty winters. 

‘Bears get here on the ice floes washed this way. 

‘As a rule, they cannot go back to Chukotka. 

‘In Kamchatka, the feed base does not suit them. 

‘So, most likely, such guests will die.' 

Map


Map

A look at our map will show how the lonesome predator has travelled south to the Kamchatka peninsula, far from his natural habitat to the north.

As attention focused on the doleful bear, the office of the regional governor Vladimir Ilyukhin has asked the Emergencies Minister Yevgeny Zinichev to supply an aircraft to airlift Umka back to his polar habitat.

'A special cage is already being manufactured in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky for transporting the animal,’ said Kamchatka official Sergey Khabarov.

‘On arrival in Tilichiki, specialists will temporarily put the bear to sleep so he can cope with the flight.’

One plan is to release the bear in the Cape Navarin area. 

The Kamchatka regional government is ready to provide the fuel for a helicopter, he said.

Polar bear in Tilichiki


Polar bear in Tilichiki


Polar bear in Tilichiki


Polar bear in Tilichiki

‘Now it looks at me, so we are finishing.' Pictures: Alina Ukolova

Local photographer Alina Ukolova made pictures and a video of the stranded bear.

'We came to see him,’ she said.

‘He is rather scary. 

‘He jumped up several times. 

‘Now it looks at me, so we are finishing.' 

The bear is off course by roughly the distance from Moscow to St Petersburg, or London to Edinburgh, and further than New York City to Washington DC.


Comments (1)

The bear deserves the air ride. After all the destruction of his natural habitat, is the least he can get.
I-need-a-russian-name, St. Petersburg
22/04/2019 13:59
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