Cookie toll: Bear and fox demand food payment from passing tourists (VIDEO)
A video showing a bear demanding and getting treats from a passing car has gone viral in Russia. The story behind it is both more interesting than expected, and really sad.
The video shows a brown bear getting a few cookies from the driver of a car in Russia’s Far East. It was published last week by Vladimir Lirkin on his Instagram page. Some commenters found it quite cute, while others were outraged – it’s actually a bad idea to teach a bear that humans can be a source of food.
After the video went viral, Lirkin, who lives on Sakhalin Island, explained to a regional news agency that the bear is part of an animal duo – the other half being a fox – who have been imposing a food toll on the road since at least the start of summer. The road is located on the smaller Iturup Island, one of the Kuril chain, and leads to a hot spring that is popular among tourists.
“They usually sit by the road together. And the fox usually gets more food from passing cars, since it is quicker than its partner,” Lirkin told the Sakhalin-Kurily. When he and his friends shot the video, the fox was absent, he added.
Lirkin says the bear apparently lost its mother as a cub and started begging for food because it doesn’t know how to survive in the wild. “Look, it’s clear that you should not feed bears. But one should take it to whoever started it. Now everyone who passes by feeds it. Too bad that it may not be able to live on its own now,” he said.
Bears that live close to human settlements often discover that they can find discarded food in garbage bins and switch to this kind of foraging. Such animals actually pose a significant threat. They are notoriously prone to attacking guard dogs and may hurt humans in some cases, so they are usually hunted down.
Some foxes also learn the benefits of getting food from humans. A video filmed in the same region shows how a different pack of foxes proves the same point: people often can’t resist giving the cunning critters a treat.
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