UK & World News
Russia Bans 'Sport' Of Shooting Sleeping Bears
The cruel practice of hunting sleeping bears as they hibernate has recently been banned in Russia.
But there are doubts as to whether it will make a difference to the thousands of cubs orphaned by the hunts each year.
Deep in a remote forest in the Tver region, eight baby brown bears are about to receive the third of their four daily feeds.
Normally they would be growing from their mother's milk in the warmth and safety of a natural den, but these babies are in an artificial one being fed by humans.
Their mothers were killed by hunters.
The three-month-olds are being nurtured and strengthened in preparation for their return to the wild.
For a national emblem, bears in Russia are not afforded much respect outside of this now world-renowned sanctuary.
Many cubs end up here or far worse, in circuses or the hands of street photographers, because of the so-called winter den hunt.
The practice involves sleeping bears being woken from hibernation.
Amateur footage taken by hunters shows bears emerging dazed and confused from their dens before being shot at point-blank range.
Inside, cubs are often left behind, unable to survive the Russian winter alone.
What was once a necessity is now a leisure activity for Russia's new rich - the company behind this video charges £5,000 to kill a bear.
Trophy-hunting foreigners are also willing to pay thousands to kill of one these majestic animals.
One online video boasts the added attraction of doing it from a tank.
Foreigners then pay to have the head and skin of the dead bear flown back home.
Bear skins are also sold on roadsides for about £600 each so the ban on the winter den hunt will affect business.
Local hunters say they will abide by the new law.
Encouraging words in a country where the rule of law is often, at best, inconsistent.
Those who lobbied tirelessly for the ban are also optimistic.
Masha Vorontsova is from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (Ifaw).
She said: "Those hunters who were hunting legally and buying a licence... will not do it any more, so it's already saving a lot of bears.
"But of course still we have the problem of illegal hunting - poaching - that is completely different.
"The ban will not stop the poaching and here is the matter of law enforcement."
Soon the babies will be weaned off their milk and porridge, and come early summer they will be released back into a slightly less perilous wilderness.
Thanks to tireless lobbying from campaigners, the future of one of the world's most persecuted animals may be a little brighter in their main vast and often unforgiving territory.
:: To find out more or donate to the IFAW Bear Rescue Centre in Russia visit www.ifaw.org under the section 'Bears'.
what do you think?
how can this practice be possibly deemed as a sport. big hard men creeping up on sleeping bears and heroically shooting them dead. just one example of what is wrong with the world today. i would like to see these hero,s put in a an enclosed space bare handed with one of these poor animals. then we would see how macho they are. i know who the animals are and it aint the bears. disgusting ,
Absolutel agree Michael, there's nothing sporting about any blood sport. Unfortunately the rules of logic that people like you and I use don't apply to people who enjoy killing animals, and they like to do it with the least risk to themselves. That's why, also in Russia, rich Americans pay to shoot chained Siberian tigers. I wholeheartedly agree with you, some peole are too disgusting to deserve to share this planet with us.
I always believe that hunting animals is alright if the animal is not in danger of extinction, the killing is humane, and the hunter DOESNT shoot it from half a mile away with a rifle, but instead is given a knife and pointed in the direction of the beast. It seems a much fairer and more challenging approach to hunting.
hey jack hunting animals for fun is most definitely not alright mate wether they are in danger of extinction or not. its the cowards past time. anyone who shoots defenceles animals in my view has something wrong with them.theres no place for cruelty in the world. how would you like members of your family chased down and shot.not much me thinks
Perhaps i should have made my sarcasm more obvious...
Yes Jack, perhaps you're just too subtle. Unfortunately there are many people who DO think like that so it doesn't come across as sarcasm at all. The animals don't see it as sport either, they're just trying to survive and in many cases, failing.
completely agree with what you're saying Michael, these humans are a disgrace to the human race, and so-called "big hard men" just how you put it. disgusting behaviour.
yeah right on rachel its comforting to know there are many compassionate human beings out there and isnt full of these neanderthalles
you can read between the lines of our friend jacks comments what sort of mentallity he has. attack some poor animal with a knife just for the fun of it. great example he sets to his or indeed any other kids out there who happen to read his comments. theres no excuse whatsoever to hunt down any living animal wether in danger of extinction or not. how does he think animals are brought to the edge of extinction nine times out of ten.wonder how he would like it if him or any members of his family were chased down and killed just a thought
Really disgusted watching this, these people dont deserve to breath air, waking a wild animal from a sleep to shoot it point blank! and the cubs are left for dead more or less unless there found by the good people in the video to care for them!
What a horrible thing to do.
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Who are the wild ANIMALS,it is humane`s who hunt for sport disgusting slime.
This is is a cruel sport so glad its been banned
Yeah, I've always thought that the best way to deal with any kind of huntsman, who kills animals just for the fun of it, is to hunt them down by their own method of killing! To turn the tables on the nasty and sadistic minded individuals would be a just karmic reward... As you sow, so shall you reap!
All you guys who are, quite rightly, protesting about killing animals for sport should bear in mind that David Cameron has promised the hunting lobbyists that a free vote will be allowed in Parliament to determine whether the fox-hunting ban should be repealed. When it comes we'll need everyone who feels strongly about it protesting outside parliament to let the politicians know what we feel. For me, never mind repealing the law, they should be doing more to enforce it!
I think this, here in England, we have totally exterminated most of our dangerous wild animals. When other countries try to do the same thing, we tend to say, "That is disgusting!" Bears tend to attack people by biting off their face and ripping at them with large claws. We don't tend to have that problem in England. We don't have that problem in England because we killed all the bears. We killed all the wild boars. We killed most of the dangerous animals which ever lived here.