A black bear that came to the Siberian town of Luchegorsk in search of food. Up to 36 bears were reported to be circling the town in August 2015, in what one resident compared to a military operation. Photo: Yuriy Smityuk

3 September 2015 (The Siberian Times) – At least eight black bears have been killed in terrorised Luchegorsk, as starving wild animals roam streets and go on the attack.

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.'

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. […]

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. [more]

Town under siege from 'bear invasion'



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