Mystery over polar bear spray-painted with ‘T-34’ spotted in Arctic Russia

Large lettering could disrupt predator’s camouflage and harm its ability to hunt, wildlife expert warns

Samuel Osborne
Tuesday 03 December 2019 17:25
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Footage emerged of the animal lumbering through the Russian Arctic bearing the name of the iconic Soviet tank
Footage emerged of the animal lumbering through the Russian Arctic bearing the name of the iconic Soviet tank

Experts are trying to work out why a polar bear had “T-34” spray-painted on its side.

Footage emerged of the animal lumbering through the Russian Arctic bearing the name of the iconic Soviet tank.

Wildlife experts have warned the large lettering could disrupt the predator’s camouflage and harm its ability to hunt.

The accurate and clear writing suggest the bear must have been sedated for a while, Anatoly Kochnev, a researcher at the Institute of Biological Problems of the North, told the Ria Novosti news agency, according to The Siberian Times.

“Scientists could not do this, it could have been somebody who ‘joked’ like this,” he said.

Mr Kochnev said the paint will hopefully be washed off when the animal swims.

He said the tagging could have happened near Novaya Zemlya, which declared a state of emergency in February after more than 50 polar bears wandered into towns and villages in the region.

“Given there was a bit of a turmoil with polar bears at Novaya Zemlya, perhaps they took some measures ahead of the upcoming winter by catching and immobilising bears,” he said.

The video was uploaded to social media by Sergey Kavry, a member of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), who said he did not know where the video was taken.

”If it’s a military lettering theme... that is some kind of perverse disrespect for history,” he told the BBC.

Polar bears are officially classed as “vulnerable,” with population numbers falling.

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