Leg of a slaughtered polar bear on Vilkitsky Island in the Kara Sea. The remains of six slaughtered polar bears, 'beheaded with their skins removed' were discovered during an expedition by the Russian Centre of Arctic Exploration in August 2017. Polar bear rugs are highly sought after in black market sales, where they can fetch around $17,000 each. The skulls of the polar bears had been removed in a way that is consistent with trophy hunters. Photo: Russian Centre for Arctic Exploration

4 August 2017 (The Siberian Times) – The gruesome evidence of illegal hunting was found on uninhabited Vilkitsky Island in the Kara Sea.

The carcasses and used gun cartridges were found by members of an ecological clean-up team sent to the remote territory.

Summer thawing meant the polar bear remains became visible.

There are claims that local police initially sought to cover up the crime - possibly suggesting an elite hunting group was involved in the bloody massacre. But the prosecutor's office subsequently opened a criminal probe.

Andrey Baryshnikov, head of the Russian Centre of Arctic Exploration, said: 'When they spotted the carcasses they immediately got in touch with me via satellite connection because this is a very serious case.

“We passed the information to the police.”

A case was opened once law enforcement received the gruesome pictures of the polar bear remains.

“For now we cannot say exactly how old the bears were, or whether they were were male, female or cubs; nor is it clear how long the carcasses were there.”

Deputy governor of Yamalo-Nenets autonomous region Alexander Mazharov said: “There were many polar bears at Vilkitsky island and unfortunately poachers came to hunt them.” […]

The skulls of the polar bears had been removed in a way that is consistent with trophy hunters.

Polar bear rugs are highly sought after in black market sales, where they can fetch around $17,000 each. [more]

Massacre of polar bears by 'trophy hunters' on remote Arctic island

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