Russia thanks Estonia for return of Prosha the bear

Prosha the bear.
Prosha the bear. Source: Tallinn Zoo

Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation Murad Kerimov sent Minister of the Environment Rene Kokk (EKRE) a letter thanking Estonia for its cooperation in returning Prosha, a male brown bear who had wound up in Estonian territory last summer, to Russia.

Last July, the Orphan Bear Rescue Centre director Sergey Pazhetnov contacted the Russian ministry seeking help in returning two bears who had wandered into Estonian territory to Russia, Kerimov wrote according to a Ministry of the Environment press release.

Two brown bears who had been found in southern Estonia's Valga County were identified as brother and sister Prosha and Polya, two brown bears who had been raised at the rescue center.

Kerimov noted that in order to successfully reintroduce them into the wild, bears that have been raised in such conditions must be released at least 150 kilometers from populated areas, which isn't possible in Estonia.

In his letter, Kerimov also described the efforts made in securing the necessary permits, documents and transportation to return Prosha to Russia after he was caught and temporarily held at Tallinn Zoo.

"Catching Prosha and returning him to Russia was quite the challenge, which was overcome in cooperation between various authorities," Kokk recalled. "Many thanks to local residents and hunters who constantly reported on the bear's movements."

Among Estonian and Russian authorities to pitch into efforts to return Prosha to Russia were the Environment Agency, the Veterinary and Food Board (VTA) and the Tax and Customs Board (MTA). Tallinn Zoo also organized Prosha's quarantine, the processing of necessary permits and the bear's transport back to Russia.

Prosha was returned to Russia in mid-November.

Polya and Prosha

Polya and Prosha were reintroduced to the wild in Pskov Oblast, to Estonia's southeast, from where they roamed through Eastern Latvia to Southern Estonia's Valga County. As they were unafraid of humans, the two bears caused trouble for local residents, and the two quickly became local media stars.

On August 14, with the help of veterinarians and hunters, the Environment Agency managed to tranquilize Prosha and transport him to Tallinn Zoo. Polya's fate remains unknown to date; she has not been seen in Estonia.

Prosha was returned to the Orphan Bear Rescue Centre in Tver Oblast, and according to the Estonian ministry's information, he will be released into the wild again after his winter hibernation ends.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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