Image

Unwelcome guest: This is one of the bears which has surrounded the town of Luchegorsk, in eastern Russia
A Russian town is under siege from at least three dozen ravenous bears, leaving many locals too terrified to open their doors and go outside.

In a month-long blockade, the hungry beasts have attacked residents in Luchegorsk - population 20,000 - and there are reports of one man being killed.

Inhabitants say at least eight Asian black bears have been shot as they stalk the streets and terrorise the town in the country's extreme east, close to the Chinese border.

One woman likened the bear threat to being under siege from an army.

'Hunters say that they looked at the area from a helicopter - there are crowds of these bears, like army units,' she said.

'We are scared to walk outside.

'All doors are shut in kindergartens, there are written warnings everywhere that walking with kids is allowed only in certain areas.'


Loud speaker alerts have urged people in Luchegorsk 'not to leave your houses for your own safety', reported The Siberian Times.

Dramatic dash cam footage showed one bear attack a resident close to his apartment block.

Victim Viktor Dubitsky said: 'The bear jumped from under the balcony and I saw it flying towards me, lather on its muzzle.

'The only thing I managed to do was to lift my arms.

'The bear hit me into the chest and knocked me down, and I was sent flying for two metres on my bottom.'

Image

Attacked: Viktor Dubitsky was sent flying for two metres after a bear ran into his chest near his home
Fellow resident Alexei Tishkov feared he would be killed by the angry bear, but then the animal suddenly got distracted.

'I struggled somehow, I broke out and ran away, and the bear went off in a different direction,' he said from hospital.

In one attack, several hungry bears stormed a beekeeper's hives, and then ate all the honey.

Blood was visible on the ground from another bear attack on a man in the town centre.

'At one point the local fire brigade was forced to use hoses to force away the bears,' reported The Siberian Times.

Police also used their siren to scare away another beast, which was close to a reservoir beach.


Lesana Mairansayeva said: 'I am now in Luchegorsk and, to be honest, it's really scary.

'Thirty-six bears have been seen here.

'People were told not to go outside when it's dark, and even at daytime try to be around other people.'

Witnesses say police are using their standard issue hand guns to shoot at bears rampaging in the streets because marksmen with rifles were not on the scene.

But it takes several shots to kill the creatures.

'They are opening fire right in the streets and cruelly killing the animals, and not just with one shot,' said one.

'About eight bears were already killed.

'Not long ago we heard at least seven shots in the backyards at night and a little bear cub was killed.

'There are about 30 other bears in the neighbourhood and I think they want to kill all of them.'

Senior Russian hunting official Vladimir Vasiliev admitted there was an 'invasion' by bears but claimed the situation was improving.

Some bears had to be killed because of the threat to inhabitants, he said.

'We had to neutralise them because they were really dangerous for people and tried to attack them.'

But residents claim the authorities in Luchegorsk - between the cities of Vladivostok and Khabarovsk in the Russian Far East - have been slow to respond to a town stalked by fear.

WWF coordinator Pavel Fomenko blamed lack of food in forests in the region for bears encroaching on inhabited areas.

'There are no nuts for eating this year. And there are problems with acorns in some places,' he said referring to the bears' staple food.

Image

Defence: Police are using their standard issue hand guns to kill the bears, but it takes several shots