Irkuiem

Unknown Bear of Siberia.

Etymology: Koryak or Chukot (Chukotko-Kamchatkan), "trousers pulled down."

Variant names: Irquiem, Kainyn-kutkho ("god-bear").

Physical description: General shape of a polar bear. Shoul der height, 4 feet 7 inches. Weight, more than 2,000 pounds. White coat. Narrow body. Small head. Long forelegs. A bulge of fat hangs down between the short hind legs.

Behavior: Does not run but is said to move by throwing down its front l egs and heaving the hind legs forward to meet them. Said to cross the Chukchi Sea to Al aska via ice fl oes.

Habitat: Tundra.

Distribution: Olyutorskiy, Karaginskiy, and Tigil' areas of the Kamchatka Peninsul a, Koryak Autonomous Province, Siberia.

Significant sightings: Soviet hunter Rodion Sivol obov col l ected eyewitness accounts of the Irkuiem in the 1970s and 1980s, and in the spring of 1987, he obtained a skin. A photo of this skin (or another one like it) was examined by Val erii Orl ov, who thought it was that of a Brown bear (Ursus arctos). Reindeer hunters are said to have killed specimens in 1976, 1980, and 1982.

Possible explanations:

(1) The fossil Short-faced bear (Arctodus simus) was 9 feet 6 inches l ong and 5 feet 7 inches high at the shoulder. An active carnivore with a short, broad muzzle, Arctodus could run swiftly and was a fearsome predator. It lived 44,000-11,500 years ago and ranged from Alaska to Mexico. First suggested as a possibility by Soviet zool ogist Nikol ai K. Vereshchagin. However, the Irkuiem's peculiar locomotion does not match the swift movements of Arctodus.

(2) A stray Polar bear (Ursus maritimus) or an isolated population of these bears on Kamchatka, suggested by Val erii Orlov. Sources: "Giant Bear Sought by Soviets," ISC

Newsletter 6, no. 4 (Winter 1987): 6-7; Andrew D. Gable, "Bergman's Bear," December 19, 2000, http://www.cryptozool ogy.com/cryptids/ godbear.php.

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