'Lost' polar bear carried away on ice floe to village 450 miles from home

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Villagers are trying to save an “exhausted and confused” polar bear that ended up 450 miles off course after being carried away on an ice floe.

The beast headed towards the police station in Tilichiki village once the floe touched land on Russia’s Pacific coast, evidently pleading for human help.

The predator is “lame, exhausted and confused” but has climbed on its hind legs to peer into windows in a search for food or assistance, leaving some locals scared on the Kamchatka Peninsula in the extreme east of Siberia.

Residents have left fish for the bear and police officers in the remote settlement – population 1,750 – are watching over the animal as officials seek to airlift it above the Arctic Circle.

Plans are being drawn up to name the bear, named Umka by locals

 

The young male, now named Umka after a polar bear cartoon character, got stuck on the floe off the coast of Chukotka, Russia’s most easterly region, and floated far to the south away from its natural habitat, travelling a distance at least as great as London to Edinburgh.

The wild animal seems to have a wounded front paw and is “disorientated” and weak after its odyssey.

The “forlorn” beast is scavenging for food in the bleak village.

Svetlana Gubareva, deputy head of the district, said: “At first, the animal behaved quite actively.

The wild animal seems to have a wounded front paw

“Locals filmed it on video, photographed it, and yesterday – fed it with fish, though he did not eat much.

“The bear looks drained and weak.

“For some reason he does not catch fish and seals, which we have in good supply.”

Locals came out to gawp but also want to help.

The bear has strayed dangerously close to humans on the Siberian peninsula

   

Yet they are rightly frightened to approach too close, reported The Siberian Times.

A resident on one video says: “He is starving. Poor poor bear, so hungry.

“If this wasn’t Russia but America, they would have found a way to send him to sleep and move him to an animal enclosure.”

But then a voice is heard getting frightened as the bear approaches.

“We’ve got to go, we are leaving,” says the woman.

The bear has been found about 450 miles from its usual habitat

“Please can we go now, we won’t have enough time to escape, please, please can we go.”

Environmentalists said the bear could have lost its sense of direction while drifting on the ice floe.

Vladimir Chuprov of Greenpeace told the Guardian: “Due to climate change, the Arctic is getting warmer, hunting environment gets smaller and less convenient.

“The ice is receding, and polar bears look for new ways to survive. And the easiest way is coming to people.”

Officials in Kamchatka have called in the Russian Emergencies Ministry in a bid to rescue Umka.

The local police force has been keeping a close watch on the polar bear

“He lies near the bay on the ice – close to our police station,” said Gubareva.

“The police are watching him so that no one will approach him.”

Regional wildlife had Vladimir Gordienko said that bears getting carried away by floes is a rare event.

“Bears get here on the ice floes washed this way,” he said.

“As a rule, they cannot go back to Chukotka.

“In Kamchatka, the feed base does not suit them.

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“So, most likely, such guests will die.”

However, regional governor Vladimir Ilyukhin is seeking to organise a rescue for Umka.

“A special cage is already being manufactured in (regional capital) Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky for transporting the animal,” said Kamchatka official Sergey Khabarov.

“On arrival in Tilichiki, specialists will temporarily put the bear to sleep so he can cope with the flight.”

An assessment will also be made if the bear needs medical attention for its paw.

The conservation status for the polar bear is listed as vulnerable with a decreasing population amid retreating ice cover in its habitat.

The animal is found across the Arctic in Russia, Norway, Greenland, Canada and the US.

Its home range can be enormous depending on the quality of sea ice and the availability of seals, which they eat for their high fat content.

A polar bear can eat 100lbs of blubber in a single meal.

Earlier this year, Russian officials declared a state of emergency in parts of the Novaya Zemlya archipelago after a “mass invasion” of polar bears in human settlements.

The bears were pictured wandering through residential and government buildings.

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