Hungry Russian Bears Feasting on Human Remains

bear in cemetery photo
Bear photo: AndyeMcee/CC. Cemetery photo: infomatique/CC

Imagine a troubling future where heat waves and wildfires sweep across the globe, decimating vegetation and forcing wildlife into communities to feast on rotting human flesh. No, it isn't the plot of of some dystopian-set horror movie -- it's a troubling trend in Russia that's based very much in reality. It turns out that the nation's recent record-breaking summer heat spell and the wildfires that followed destroyed so much vegetation that bears in Russia have taken to finding their meal elsewhere -- in cemeteries.While many hoped that the cool Russian autumn would offer refuge from the devastating effects of last season's global warming fueled heat wave, the consequences are still manifesting -- and in a rather disturbing way.

So much of the brown bears' usual diet of berries and vegetables was destroyed in the heat that the animals have taken to finding new sources of sustenance before their winter hibernation. Just last weekend, at least one brown bear was spotted digging up a grave sight and eating the remains of its occupant, terrifying a pair visiting the cemetery.

The Guardian describes the disturbing scene:

From a distance it resembled a rather large man in a fur coat, leaning tenderly over the grave of a loved one. But when the two women in the Russian village of Vezhnya Tchova came closer they realised there was a bear in the cemetery eating a body.

But the deceased aren't the only targets of the bears' veracious appetite.

According to Russian media, one young man in the northern region of Komi was mauled by one of the area's many hungry bears. It is estimated that there are between 120,000 and 140,000 bears forced to scavenge for food during the weather-driven famine.

Although the human toll, living or dead, is tragic -- the outlook for these bears is quite bleak as well. The vice-president of the region's hunting and fishing society, Simion Razmislov, predicts that it's a sad fate which awaits the nations bear population. "They are really hungry this year. It's a big problem. Many of them are not going to survive."

In addition to the famine, hunting of the bears remains a threat. The Guardian reports that most of the male bears have already been killed by gun enthusiasts and, in Siberia, Chinese poachers who are looking to sell the animals parts in the wildlife market.

The troubling trend of bears acquiring a taste for human flesh may seem straight out of a horror flick, but perhaps it's symptomatic of something far more disturbing. As predictions abound regarding the loss of habitat due to a global warming, it may be inevitable that our relationship with wildlife will change as species become emboldened by hunger to enter the territories we've claimed as our own.

It may be scary, but it's rated R for 'reality'. Coming to a cemetery near you?

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