VILYUCHINSK, Russia (NEXSTAR) – The Russian Navy faces outrage online after a video showed a mother bear and cub being shot after the animals climbed onto a nuclear submarine.
The submarine was docked at a base in Vilyuchinsk, a town on the far-east Kamchatka Peninsula, when the animals were killed.
Video of the shooting was shared Nov. 8, according to the BBC, but it wasn’t immediately clear when the incident occurred. The footage shows the bears swimming across Krasheninnikov Bay to the submarine and sitting together on the deck.
The crack of a gunshot can be heard and the mother bear tumbles into the water. She can be seen struggling in the water before the video ends.
A man in the background can be heard saying, “There’s no other way … If you chase it out, it’ll wander into the villages. That’s how you fight bears in Kamchatka,” according to English-language publication The Moscow Times.
The video drew dozens of angry comments on YouTube, with one person posting, “The whole essence of Russia in one video.”
“In Europe, they would have saved (them),” another person wrote.
The Russian Navy has defended the shootings, done by a hunting instructor, saying there was no other option, according to the BBC.
The Wildlife Conservation Society estimates there are about 10,000-14,000 of the brown Kamchatka bears along the Kamchatka Peninsula range, an area about the size of California. While bears generally avoid humans, wildlife experts say climate change and a shortage of natural food sources may have caused two recent encounters that made international headlines.
In 2008, roughly 30 bears descended on a platinum-mining company and killed two security guards. Extensive fish poaching has caused bears to search for other sources of food, including garbage.
In 2019, dozens of hungry polar bears sent residents of the small far-east village of Ryrkaypiy into hiding as the bears searched for food. Melting ice has prevented the animals from hunting for seals and other prey, forcing them to rely on human trash and the carcasses of animals that wash up on the beach, according to the Russian branch of the World Wide Fund for Nature.