A schoolgirl was savaged to death by a brown bear that invaded her village and attacked the 14-year-old when she went out to her local shop to buy juice and chocolate.
Sonya Chernigova died from appalling neck, face and head injuries which locals at first believed had been inflicted by a wolf.
See watch video
But bear footprints were found at the scene in the centre of Yodva village in Russia’s Komi republic.
Her face was ‘disfigured’ and her neck was almost severed by deep bites from the wild animal which also ripped out her hair in the violent attack which was so bad her father Sergey Chernigov did not initially recognise her.
He had gone out to search for her after she failed to return from the local shop at around 10pm.
Sonya’s mutilated corpse had been found by local teenage boys who also did not
recognise her because of the appalling wounds.
They had called police.
‘I did not want to believe that it was my daughter in front of my eyes,’ said the weeping father.
‘Her face was all disfigured, it was impossible to recognise her.
‘She was dressed just like all other girls, only her jacket was recognisable.
‘It was all clear when I dialled her mobile number and the phone rang in the pocket of her jacket…’
The village has been under siege from both a bear and wolves in recent weeks.
Locals are ‘very afraid,’ reported the local newspaper.
A video shows a bear prowling Yodva village in late May. It is not known if this was the same beast that attacked Sonya.
The bear was probably seeking waste food from rubbish skips when it attacked the girl at around 9.45 pm – when it was still light.
Nikolay Gorbunov, the chairman of Udorsky District Society of Hunters and Fishermen told Argumenti I Fakty newspaper: ‘Most likely, the bear was eating something at the dump.
‘The girl happened to be close and disturbed the predator. Experienced hunters have studied the accident scene and confirmed there were bear footprints.’
He added: ‘A wolf cannot disfigure a human being in such a way. Such wounds can be inflicted only by a predator with large claws.’
The girl’s injuries were also consistent with a bear attack. The predators often scalp their victims, he said.
A criminal investigation has been opened which will examine if local officials took sufficient action to deter wild animals from the village which is 145 miles north of regional capital Syktyvkar.
Charges could be brought for official negligence.
Apart from the recent sightings of a bear, wolves have terrorised the village ‘for years,’ in winter killing and eating local dogs, say residents.
Hunters are expected to be given licenses to kill local bears following the attack on the schoolgirl.
Onischik said she had never known a bear attack in the village since he arrived 35 years ago.
He said the dead girl was a ‘good student’ who took an active part in local drama and music performances.
The girl’s father said Sonia was due to turn 15 in two weeks.
‘We planned to get together on that day with the whole family,’ he said.
‘I had not decided on what present to get her,
‘And now we have to bury her.’