In Iran, 'Heartbreaking' Death for Endangered Resident

Arrests have been made after authorities say villagers in Iran tortured, killed brown bear
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 27, 2022 11:50 AM CDT
Iranian Villagers Torture, Kill Endangered Bear
Syrian brown bears, an endangered subspecies of brown bear (Ursus arctos), are distributed in mountainous areas of northern and western Iran.   (Getty - scubaluna)

Authorities in Iran have made arrests after the "horrible" killing Sunday of an endangered brown bear by villagers in Ardabil province, per the BBC. State news agencies reported that villagers chased the bear, beat it, and trapped it with a tractor, fracturing the animal's leg and pelvis and damaging its spine. Although wildlife officers arrived and took the bear to a clinic, the animal succumbed to its injuries. The Daily Mail, which posted disturbing video and photographs from the scene, sought comment from Alan Knight of International Animal Rescue. "It is heartbreaking to think of the agony suffered by this poor bear," he said. "Yes, the conflict between humans and wildlife is a serious problem, but there is no excuse for dealing with it by brutally torturing an animal to death."

According to Newsweek, Iran's brown bears are distributed in mountainous northern and western regions, but they're extremely threatened due to habitat loss from agriculture, logging, and road construction, among other things. Interactions with the bears—which typically max out at less than 500 pounds—and ambushes against livestock "have left locals with a less than sympathetic attitude towards the bears," per the magazine. A 2018 study showed there may be as few as 40 brown bears still alive in Iran.

The BBC concludes its report with another recent human-wildlife encounter in Iran, when "an endangered Persian leopard was shot dead after attacking and injuring a policeman" in Ghaemshahr, north of Tehran. Bizarre video shows the large cat pacing on the terrace of a bank building before it jumps down onto the street below. No video of the attack itself has emerged, and authorities haven't yet determined if the leopard came from the wild or escaped from illegal captivity. (More brown bear stories.)

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