The media are so gullible. So eager are they for a sympathetic polar bear victim that news outlets everywhere carried a story earlier this week about a Russian polar bear that had ‘T-34’ spray-painted on its side. They took the word of Russian polar bear/walrus consultant to WWF and Netflix, Anatoly Kochnev, that this was some kind of cruel joke that meant an untimely death for the bear. Turns out it was nothing of the kind.
Cruel animal abusers daubed T-34 – the name of an iconic Soviet tank – on a wild polar bear. Daily Mail (2 December 2019).
Polar bear spray-painted with ‘T-34’ baffles Russia wildlife experts BBC (2 December 2019).
Russians spotted a polar bear painted in cryptic graffiti. Scientists are searching for answers National Post (4 December 2019)
A polar bear was spray-painted with graffiti, scientists fear it won’t survive CNN (4 December 2019).
Apparently, the original video of the marked bear was posted on a social media site for Chukotak indigenous people and subsequently posted on Facebook by Sergey Kavry of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), who also contacted local media.
Only five days ago, Kochnov was quoted as saying:
‘Scientists could not do this, it could have been somebody who ‘joked’ like this.
Except scientists did do it.
In a report in the Siberian Times published late today, it appears the bear was causing problems on Novaya Zemlya (where dump bears were a big problem last winter) and was tagged ahead of being driven off:
“The animal was marked with ‘safe paint’ which wears off over two weeks, and moved away to discourage him from coming back.
The bear was sedated and examined, said senior researcher Ilya Mordvintsev.
The check showed that the male predator was well-fed which meant that he would likely not attack.
The mark was made to allow both the locals and experts recognise the beast in case he returned, and to distinguish it from any other polar bear scavenging at the site.
Andrey Umnikov denied T-34 referred to the tank.
The video [that went viral] was filmed approximately a week ago, he specified.”
Poor sad polar bear news flash is over, morphing into an egg-on-the-face moment for WWF and Kochnev.
Habituated dump bears are a wide-spread problem in the Kara Sea, as the photo of a fat bear checking out a container below shows.
‘Polar bears checking on rubbish containers are not rarity. It happened at Beliy island and Vilkitskiy island,’ Andrey Umnikov explained.
Location of Vilkitskiy Island in the Kara Sea (Wikipedia):