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Old ammunition found in polar bears bodies

An autopsy revealed shotgun ammunition in the fat tissue of the bodies of two polar bears. One, a female with a cub, was shot in June 2016 in Austfjordnes. Only two months later a Russian researcher shot another female polar bear in Forlandet.

Polarbear with cub

Polarbear with cub

The shot was encapsulated in the fat and flesh of the bears in both animals, which means it must have hit them well before they were killed in 2016. Ammunition was found in several places of the bodies. Knut Fossum, environmental director for the Sysselmannen (Governor of Spitsbergen), presumes that the shots were fired from a relatively short distance. Probably someone wanted to scare away the polar bears with pellets, but hit them. Shot is unlikely to hurt a polar bear seriously, but serious injury may occur if, for example, a joint or an eye is hit. Veterinarians refer to the case of a reindeer that was killed with an airgun. Additionally, even smaller injuries may lead to pain and inflammation.

Polar bears are strictly protected on Spitsbergen, injuring them or killing them will be punished. Shooting at a bear with shotguns to scare it away is both unsuitable and illegal.

How long the polar bears already carried the ammuniion in their bodies and whether they suffered from pain, is not certain.

Source: Svalbardposten

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last modification: 2017-06-09 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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