Grave-robbing bears have dug up at least ten corpses in a Russian cemetery, making off with the head and body parts of at least one recently buried body.
The hungry animals have been driven to these desperate measures because the hotter summers are reducing the quantity of cones, berries and other plants that bears might forage for at this time of year.
Armed guards are now patrolling the necropolis in industrial Nizhny Tagil, a city of 354,000 people in Sverdlovsk region.
Frightened mourners have been told to stay away from Fir Mountains cemetery.
One bear has been attacking the graveyard late at night for at least a week, and its paw prints are visible in recently fallen snow.
Local newspaper Vse Novosti quoted a local resident saying: “Someone I know was called by the police and asked to come to the cemetery.
“She went, and it turned out that the bear had unearthed her female relative’s grave.
“All the bones are scattered, the head is gone, the beast bit it off.
“A terrible sight.
“She was told that there are already a dozen such graves.”
The coffin of another local man, Ivan Panov, was also broken open by grave-robbing bears.
One bear was caught digging up graves in Nizhnyaya Tura and shot by locals. Local mayor Alexey Stasenok posed for a photo with the slain beast in a social media message, writing : “The bear is defeated and says hello to everyone.
“He did not have time to write a will on his fur coat, so let him be with me for a while.”
Later after strong criticism of his “sick” post, he deleted it.
Local hunter Oleg Belyakov blamed the pandemic for the increase in bears coming closer to populated areas.
“Due to coronavirus, fewer bears were shot by hunters this spring.
“That is why the number increased.”