A Russian ecological team who were sent to Vilkitsky Island were shocked to find scores of polar bear carcasses.
The team, who were sent by President Valdimir Putin to clean up any post-Soviet toxic debris as part of his campaign to clean up the Arctic, found at least six bullet riddled bodies with their heads and skins ripped off.
Gun cartridges were found at the scene of the massacre – particularly concerning as under Russian and international law the shooting of endangered polar bears is illegal.
Fears of a cover up were sparked when police from Yamalo-Nenets – the autonomous region of Russia – were reluctant to launch a criminal investigation with concerns poachers may have have been behind the massacre.
The Daily Mail reports that the remains of the polar bears could be spotted because of the ‘summer snow’ on the deserted Kara Sea island.
It’s thought the skins of these polar bears will fetch a hefty price tag once they go on the black market, with prices starting from at least £13,000.
Head of the Russian Centre of Arctic Exploration, Andrey Baryshnikov, explained that:
When they spotted the carcasses they immediately got in touch with me via satellite connection because this is a very serious case… We passed the information to the police.
It’s not clear as to when the polar bears were shot but the ongoing investigation is hoping to determine a time and date.
Deputy governor Alexander Mazharov has vowed to find those responsible ‘behind the bloody attack’.
He also stated:
There were many polar bears at Vilkitsky Island and unfortunately poachers came to hunt them… We will not let them get away with it.
Despite the hunting of polar bears being illegal this is not the first time poachers have come to the region.
Earlier this year a group of poachers were arrested after polar bear skins were discovered on the island.
Sadly, it’s thought the population of the polar bears is dwindling with only 20,000 left in the world.