Massacre of polar bears by ‘trophy hunters’ on remote Arctic island

Sunday, Oct 15 2017

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Massacre of polar bears by ‘trophy hunters’ on remote Arctic island
By The Siberian Times reporter
04 August 2017


Macabre remains of six slaughtered polar bears, ‘beheaded with their skins removed’, now under criminal investigation.

The skulls of the polar bears had been removed in a way that is consistent with trophy hunters. Picture: Russian Centre for Arctic Exploration


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.

Massacre of polar bears by ‘trophy hunters’ on remote Arctic island
Polar bear rugs are highly sought after in black market sales, where they can fetch around $17,000 each. Picture: Russian Centre for Arctic Exploration

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.’


Massacre of polar bears by ‘trophy hunters’ on remote Arctic island
Audacious hunters even left messages to each other scrawled on the island’s lighthousehe. Picture: Russian Centre for Arctic Exploration

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.

‘Our guys have already found several dead bodies of the animals.

‘Now we are gathering information. We won’t let them get away with it.’

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.

The slaughter of Red Book polar bears is illegal under international and Russian laws.

Massacre of polar bears by ‘trophy hunters’ on remote Arctic island

Massacre of polar bears by ‘trophy hunters’ on remote Arctic island
One missive from Stepan to another hunter read: ‘I was here, killed 5 bears, good luck to you.’ Pictures: Russian Centre for Arctic Exploration

In April 2017 there was an expedition by Russian Geographic Society to Vilkitsky,’ said Baryshnikov.

‘They found a skin of a freshly killed polar bear. The offenders were caught very quickly and as I heard they were sentenced already.

‘These bears were not spotted then because they were under the snow obviously.’

There are prolific numbers of bears on Vilkitsky Island ‘and poachers obviously know that’, he said.

‘The investigation is ongoing.’

Yet there are also now reports that there are now no bears left on the isolated island.


Massacre of polar bears by ‘trophy hunters’ on remote Arctic island
The expedition sent to the island in July 2017 to remove Soviet-era waste. Picture: Russian Centre for Arctic Exploration

Audacious hunters even left messages to each other scrawled on the island’s lighthouse.

One missive from Stepan to another hunter read: ‘I was here, killed 5 bears, good luck to you.’

The expedition was sent to the island to remove Soviet-era waste as part of the Green Arctic project.

The island is nine kilometres wide and about 18 km long, or 40 km including Vostochnaya Spit.

Discovered in 1874, it was named after Lieutenant General Andrei Vilkitsky (1858-1913).
Tags:

Arctic
polar bears
crime

http://siberiantimes.com/other/others/news/massacre-of-polar-bears-by-trophy-hunters-on-remote-arctic-island/

One comment on “Massacre of polar bears by ‘trophy hunters’ on remote Arctic island

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