Police made an unexpected discovery when they opened unmarked bags belonging to a lumber company, which allegedly contained wood shavings.
Instead, officers uncovered body parts from a number of dead bears awaiting shipment to markets in Asia, where they are coveted for medicinal purposes, according to The Dodo.
Among the parts found were 527 feet, a muzzle, gallbladders and three musk deer glands.
Bear paws are highly sought after to make bear paw soup, while other body parts are used in traditional medicine in China and elsewhere.
Approximately 1,000 bears are in illegal bile farms in Vietnam, where they are held captive in cages and used to obtain bile, according to Animals Asia.
“The police are establishing all circumstances of the affair, the damage caused to the state interests protected by law, and persons implicated in illegal poaching and smuggling of [wildlife] derivatives,” the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs said in a statement, according to The Dodo.
The internal affairs ministry announced an investigation into the incident, but there is no news of its conclusion.
The problem of bear poaching in Russia is not new. In 2012, mushroom pickers found a graveyard containing the skulls of nine executed bears in Buryatia.
”The brown bears were killed in the most barbaric way,” Bimba Yumov, a biologist, told the Daily Mail.
Each skull showed that the bear had been shot in the head and the rest of its body parts were removed for smuggling out of the country.
“Poachers put the traps out which even the bears cannot escape from then came to finish the animals with the shot to the head,” Yumov added.
“The bears were sitting, trapped, like chained dogs,” he said. “This was the only way the poachers could have shot them in the head.”
Sources: The Dodo, Daily Mail / Photo credit: Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs via The Dodo