A polar bear in Russia may sadly become proof that pranks can turn deadly in an instant.
On Sunday, a video was posted to Facebook by a World Wildlife Fund employee named Sergey Kavry, which showed a polar bear in a remote area of Russia marked with bold black graffiti on its back.
“Why?! He won’t be able to hunt without being noticed!” Kavry captioned the post, in Russian, noting that the bear could die from “starvation” as a result.
Notably, the lettering read “T-34,” which was the name of a Soviet medium tank used heavily during World War II. But regardless of the message, it makes camouflage much more difficult for the bear.
“This video was copied from WhatsApp, our group of indigenous peoples of Chukotka,” Kavry wrote in a comment on the video. “I don’t know [which] region, district, in the vicinity of which settlement it was taken.”
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According to The Guardian, Russian Academy of Sciences senior researcher Anatoly Kochnev told Russian news agency RIA Novosti that it was likely “some jokers” who spray-painted the bear.
“If [it’s] ordinary paint [that] bathes and wipes off on snow, it’s okay,” he wrote in a comment on Kavry’s Facebook post. “Most likely, the [perpetrators] are joking, they now do not need any permissions, they are above the laws … “
But there is some hope for the bear’s survival.
“After two to three weeks, the bear will be cleaned up, so the loss of interest in some conditional poachers is temporary,” Kochnev added in his comment. “And it’s not so difficult to clear the skin of paint. From seal and walrus fat is much more difficult.”
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Russia has seen a rise in the number of polar bears scavenging for food in its villages and cities. This increase coincides with climate change’s continued effect on the species’s sea-ice habitat. As the ice polar bears’ habitat they depend on to hunt and rest disappears, more of them are appearing in Russian towns and homes looking for something to eat.
This past June, a polar bear entered the northern Siberian city of Norilsk, Russia — the first time one of the animals has entered the town in 40 years, Reuters reported.
Locals in Norilsk believe the emaciated-looking bear wandered into the city after leaving its natural habitat and traversing the Taymyr Peninsula — a roughly 900-mile trip — in search of food, reported The Siberian Times.
According to Reuters, the number of scavenging polar bears invading remote villages in northern Russia became so pronounced and potentially dangerous recently that a state of emergency was declared.