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Polar Bear Poachers Bag Two Bears But Flee When WWF Arrive

Polar Bear Poachers Bag Two Bears But Flee When WWF Arrive

Russian police are on the trail of polar bear poachers after a WWF team was sent to check on their welfare, and discovered the grisly remains of the dead animals on an island in the Arctic Sea.

The bears are killed for their skins in a cruel and illegal trade.

The corpses of two bears - one dismembered - were discovered on the remote Vaygach Island this week. Macho Russians believe the magnificent creatures are the ultimate hunting trophy, and are willing to risk imprisonment in their quest to bag one.

"A recent polar bear research project was staged on the island which turned up the corpses of the two bears," said a regional police spokesman. "They were killed with high powered hunting rifles and snowmobile tracks - the vehicles used to pursue them - were found nearby."

Participants in the research scheme included experts from the World Wildlife Fund, the Marine Mammal Council, the National Research Institute for Environmental Protection, and a member of the Russian Federal Security Service’s border service.

"The very the first day of the expedition we found evidence of the polar bear kills," added the police spokesman. Bear meat was found in a deserted building at the Fyodorov Meteorology Station, and two hours later the body of a polar bear was spotted from a helicopter.

An examination concluded that the intact polar bear had been shot and killed just a few hours before its body was found.

"It should be noted that the polar bear is listed in Russia’s Red Data Book," said head of the WWF Polar Bear Patrol project Viktor Nikiforov, referring to the country's document listing rare and endangered animals.

"Also, penalties have been increased for poaching, capturing and transporting polar bears. Thanks to our work with the border service, we managed to uncover two cases of poaching in one day. We hope that the poachers will be found and punished soon."

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