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ANADYR, December 28. /TASS/. Police in Chukotka, in Russia’s Far East, said on Monday a criminal investigation has been opened into cruelty to animals after a female polar bear was wounded in a firecracker explosion on the remote Wrangel Island.
"The investigation is under special control of Russia’s Interior Ministry in the Chukotka Autonomous Region," the press service said.
Earlier this week, a video was published online of the endangered polar bear rolling around in the snow in agony after it took an explosive that blew up in the jaw. The incident occurred in November on the Wrangel Island in the Arctic zone of Russia.
An acting director the Wrangel Island nature reserve, Alexander Skripnik, confirmed that a worker of a construction company threw a firecracker into the bear for self-defense purposes.
The inspectors of the nature reserve chased off the bear inside the island. "Later no body was discovered and so the bear is alive," Skripnik said. The worker has been ordered to pay a 3,000 ruble ($41.5) fine.
Russian Nature Resources Minister Sergey Donskoy earlier asked the Prosecutor-General’s Office to investigate the incident that had 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.