Police and Rescue Board launch major operation to catch bears in Tallinn

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One of the bears crossing a road in Tallinn's Rocca al Mare district.
One of the bears crossing a road in Tallinn's Rocca al Mare district. Source: ERR

The Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) and Rescue Board (Päästeamet) launched a major operation in the Haabersti district of Tallinn at 7 p.m. on Thursday to try and catch two bears which have been evading capture since first reported Thursday morning. The mother bear was located at around 8.30 p.m. and personnel are attepting to put the animal to sleep.

On Thursday morning at 9 a.m., authorities were alerted about the sighting of two bears in Haabersti, between Rocca al Mare shopping center and the Open Air Museum (Vabaõhumuuseum). A mother bear and her cub had been spotted near the Saku Suurhall indoor arena, leading to the temporary closure of nearby health tracks, which had recently been reopened to the public as coronavirus pandemic restrictions begin to be lifted.

The search continued through the day, and involved the use of drones.

At around 8.30 p.m., the Rescue Board announced on their social media account that the mother bear had been located, and that personnel were moving towards her in an effort to find a way to put the animal to sleep. The cub had not been located at that time.

Reports just under an hour later, however, said the bear had given her would-be captors the slip once again.

Shortly before 10.30 p.m., the Rescue Board announced via its social media page that the search had been suspended for the night, and will continue on Friday. The area is being guarded overnight.

The Rescue Board, in cooperation with the police, had launched an operation to catch the bears starting at approximately 7 p.m. A vet has also been present. Earlier tactics had, according to one expert, aimed to escort the bears outside of city limits to forested areas nearby, where it is thought they usually live.

The Rescue Board and the PPA are asking all residents living in the area between the Open Air Museum and Rannamõisa Road to stay at home. It is also essential that all pets are kept indoors, including dogs and cats normally allowed outdoors, as they could distract dogs being used in the search.

The Rescue Board advises the general public to stay away from the area, and not to approach the bear or cub under any circumstances, but rather seek shelter in a vehicle or building if spotted.

They should also call the 112 emergency number and report the location and time of the sighting, as well as the number and size of the bears spotted.

The rescue operation is to last to at least 10 p.m. and, if necessary, for longer.


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Editor: Helen Wright, Andrew Whyte

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