VLADIVOSTOK, Russia (Reuters) - At least 30 hungry bears have trapped a group of geologists at their remote survey site in Russia’s far east after killing two of their co-workers last week, emergency officials said on Tuesday.
The team of geologists on Russia’s seismically active Kamchatka peninsula refused to leave their camp after the bears showed up, a press spokesman for the Kamchatka emergency services ministry said.
“In the interests of safety they didn’t come out to work -- the people are scared by the invasion of bears,” the spokesman said.
A bear killed two geologists at the worksite on July 18, officials said.
Officials on Kamchatka, nine time zones east of Moscow on the Pacific Ocean, said this year was remarkable for either too many bears or not enough fish.
“Either way there is not enough food,” the spokesman said.
Rampant fish poaching in the empty tundra of Russia’s farthest reaches sends hungry bear populations into populated centers every year, attracted to the food-rich garbage humans leave behind.
Officials said a helicopter ferrying officials and hunters could not fly in bad weather, but an all-terrain vehicle was on its way to the camp, where it would await government approval to shoot the bears.
“It looks like a shoot by the hunters won’t take place today as there is still no permission. As soon as we get the document from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky the hunters can get to work,” the spokesman said.
As many as 16,000 native brown bears, cousins of the American Grizzly, live on Kamchatka, an area twice the size of Great Britain. An adult male can weigh 700 kilograms (1,500 lbs) and stand 3 meters (10 feet) tall.
Writing by Chris Baldwin, editing by Robert Hart