Masha, the Russian brown bear, is chained to a tree each year to test hunting dogs in a controversial hunting contest.
In the forested area of Yakutsk, eastern Russia, a controversial hunting contest is held each year to find the best bear hunting dog. Masha, the five-year-old brown bear, is chained to a tree while hunting dogs are released and judged on their ability to find, harass, and bite the bear.
Photo-journalist Spiridon Sleptsov captured these images at the Bayanay Hunting Club in the Sakha Republic.
The hunting contest begins by releasing the dogs roughly 100 meters (330 feet) away from Masha. The hunting dogs then have to rely on scent to find the bear within two minutes. After locating the bear, the dogs are scored on how loud and how threatening their barking is, and how many bites they inflict on the bear. The more aggressive the dog is, the higher the score.
According to Sleptsov,
Ideally after bursting into a loud bark the dog must attack the beast from behind, constantly twisting it around, thereby keeping the bear in one place and giving the hunter an idea of where to go. Rating the work in pairs took into account the coherence and mutual assistance between them. If only one of the dogs attacked the bear actively, the score was reduced and if the second dog did not pay attention to bear at all, the pair was disqualified…It was rather hard to calm the over-heated dogs. Seeing that their owner was approaching, the dog began to bark at the beast with renewed energy and it took a lot of effort to pull them back from the bear.
The hunting dogs need to demonstrate that they can stop a bear from running. It is supposed to simulate a hunting situation, which would allow the hunter time to catch up to the bear and dogs.
Unseasonably warm weather has prompted many bears to come out of winter hibernation early. With springtime food sources scarce, residents have been warned about the possibility of bear attacks.
In the Siberian region of Tuva, two men have been attacked with serious injuries to their arms and heads, with one man losing an eye. Most bears have to be killed when they enter towns looking for food, and dogs are used to track and hunt them.
As for Masha, she has been used in these hunting contests for several years and seems to understand the dogs, according to Sleptsov. He also commented,
To aggressive dogs capable of painful bite, Masha’s attitude was different…Despite her apparent slowness, her attacks, like any wild animal, were extremely sharp and unexpected. To be fair, it should be noted that in all the years of holding such events, no dog has been injured by her paws and teeth.
All images via Daily Mail
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