Caught on Video, a Polar Bear With a Message

'T-34' graffiti on bear in Russia could blow its camouflage, make it hard for it to hunt
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 4, 2019 11:40 AM CST

A video showing a graffitied polar bear is making the rounds, and the outrage is about more than aesthetics. The clip of the bear, recorded somewhere in Russia, was first uploaded to Facebook Monday by Sergey Kavry, a World Wildlife Fund worker. The bear is seen trudging over the tundra at an undisclosed location, with "T-34" blasted on its white fur in black paint. The Guardian notes the graffiti is a reference to a Soviet tank used in World War II; Russians often paint that same letter-number combo on their cars each May on Victory Day, which commemorates the fall of Nazi Germany. How it ended up on the bear is still largely unconfirmed, with some guessing it was a prank; the BBC notes Russian media has also speculated that locals angry at the influx of polar bears wandering into Arctic communities as of late could've driven it.

However, per the Telegraph, a regional news agency says scientists had received a tip that a bear was raiding garbage in a settlement and marked the bear themselves in washable paint to see if it returned. Environmentalists aren't just upset about the scrawl on the bear's fur because it's unsightly: They say it could blow the bear's camouflage as it tries to forage for food. "He won't be able to hunt unnoticed!" says Kavry, who came across the video in a WhatsApp group used by indigenous communities in Chukotka. Researcher Anatoly Kochnev tells the Ria Novosti news agency, via CNN and EcoWatch, that even though the paint will wear off, it could take a few weeks. Kochnev also believes the bear would likely had to have been sedated, and for a good amount of time, while the graffiti was painted on. A source tells the Telegraph that the scientists mentioned as marking the bear did sedate it. (More polar bears stories.)

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