ANADYR, December 25. /TASS/. The polar bear wounded in a firecracker explosion on the Wrangel Island in the Arctic zone of Russia is alive and has gone in the wild, a local nature reserve worker said on Friday.
Alexander Skripnik, a staff member of the Wrangel Island nature reserve, confirmed that the female polar bear was wounded but maintained that no body of the animal has been found so far.
"A builder of a construction organization threw a firecracker into the bear for self-defense purposes. Then our staff members chased off the bear inside the island and it walked itself. Later no body was discovered and so the bear is alive," Skripnik said.
He also said it was unclear who reported first that the bear was killed.
"When our employees came to the scene, the bear was already standing. Of course, it received a traumatic shock," he said, adding that the next day and later there were traces left on the snow and there was no blood.
Earlier this week, a video emerged online of the endangered animal rolling around in the snow in agony after it took an explosive that blew up in the jaw. Local police have launched an investigation into the incident that reportedly occurred in November.
The scientist rejected the reports that the man had thrown an explosive package at the animal. "This was not an explosive package," he said. The construction worker explained that he was afraid and "threw a firecracker towards [the bear] but it turned out that it took it in the mouth," he said.
Following the incident, the construction worker was ordered to pay a fine and a protocol on administrative offence was drawn up.
Russia’s Nature Resources Minister Sergey Donskoy has earlier asked the Prosecutor-General’s Office to investigate the incident that has sparked a public outcry.
Polar bears are listed as a threatened species in Russia. The Russian polar bear population is estimated at 5,000-7,000 animals living along Russia's Arctic coast. According to estimates, there are currently some 25,000 polar bears worldwide.