A woman in Russia is recovering in a hospital after a bear attacked her and buried her alive for a future dinner. Are Russian bears becoming man-eaters? Is this a sign that Russian bears are expecting a harsh winter? Are Russian bears finally getting even for all of those years in the circus?
The Siberian Times reports that 55-year-old postal worker Natalya Pasternak was collecting birch sap (a traditional Russian beverage used for medicinal purposes) with a friend in a forest in Tynda in the Russian Far East when the bear appeared. Her dog barked and her friend ran for help while the bear attacked Natalya.
What happened next is the stuff of horror movies. The bear stopped attacking Natalya and decided to bury her alive for consumption at a later date. Her friend eventually returned with help, including wildlife expert Sergei Ivanov who says he shot and killed the bear “when it leapt towards us out of a ravine, in a rage.”
That’s when the rescuers saw a hand sticking out from under a pile of dirt and leaves. Natalya was conscious with serious bites, scratches and bruises on her head, stomach and legs. A good sign was when she asked the rescuers, “Have you killed the bear?” They rushed her to the Tynda hospital in serious condition but she's now recovering.
Why would this bear, a four-year-old female, attack a human without provocation and bury her alive? Brown bears are not to be messed with as they’ve been known to kill wolves and Siberian tigers. Veterinarians are examining a tissue sample to determine if the bear's vicious assault on Natalya was due to disease. Locals fear it may be worse. Three people in the area were killed by hungry bears last summer because their regular foods like salmon were in short supply due to record high temperatures, flooding, excessive snowfall and other unusual climate conditions.
Is climate change driving brown bears to take their aggression out on the humans who cause it? Only time will tell.