Monday, 22. December 2014
11. 07. 14. - 15:00
Terrified mourners were chased out of a cemetery in Russia after local bears discovered the graveyard was filled with sweets and other food left as tributes for the dearly departed by Orthodox Christian believers.
Members of the Orthodox Russian church believe that leaving an offering of food can help ease their loved ones journey to the afterlife but the bears have also discovered that it eases their job of looking for something to eat.
As a result the bears have been heading to the local cemetery and chasing off the mourners so that they can eat their fill in peace.
Local resident Alexander Koltsov, 48, said: "I was always told if you see a bear you should raise your hands in the air to make yourself seem bigger and hope it leaves you alone. When I saw this bear though I just ran for it, and luckily it didn't seem interested in chasing me further as it began munching honey cakes."
The parish priest, Spiridon Bezrukov, at the cemetery in Apatity, a town in Murmansk Oblast in north-west Russia, said: "I have not even been able to stage funeral services recently because of the bears. Although most of the food seems to have been eaten, there is a mother bear there with two cubs that seems to have taken up residence and won't leave."
The local council however said that as the hunting season on bears had now started, they had hired hunters to shoot the mother bear and cubs. They defended themselves against critics who said that the bears should be anaesthetised and moved to a new location by claiming that they could not afford the cost.
Council spokesman Prokhor Abramov said: "Putting a bounty on the head of the bear is the easiest way to solve the problem, because almost anybody with a gun will be able to carry it out. To have to anaesthetise them we would need special guns and vehicles and it's dangerous and risky – and far more expensive."
Hungry bears have been a particular problem in Russia this year with the animals increasingly heading into built-up areas in search of food, causing conflict with the people living there.
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