Russian poachers film themselves illegally killing a moose

Four suspected poachers riding snowmobiles chased down a moose and then killed it in northwestern Russia.
Four suspected poachers riding snowmobiles chased down a moose and then killed it in northwestern Russia. © Instagram

Four people riding snowmobiles chased down a moose on February 23 in the Vologda region in northwestern Russia. The men then threw themselves on the exhausted moose, suffocating it and killing it. The poachers posted their own videos of the chase on Instagram, even though moose hunting using these methods at this time of year is banned in Russia.

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The video of the moose killing was posted on Instagram on February 24 by Alexey Sedoy, who runs a wildlife reserve in the Moscow region. The video was originally posted by one of the people involved in the hunt. The video shows three men in the middle of a snowy landscape trying to hold down a moose using their body weight. The video is disturbing, so we’ve only published screengrabs. 

Dans la légende de la publication, Alexey Sedoy dénonce les agissements des braconniers présumés et invite les témoins à alerter la police.
Dans la légende de la publication, Alexey Sedoy dénonce les agissements des braconniers présumés et invite les témoins à alerter la police. © Instagram

“I can’t watch that,” says the woman filming the video. 

“Do you have a knife?” asks the man on the left. 

The man with a red mask on his forehead says, “No, he’ll die all by himself. Can you check to see if there are any people around?”

“I am going to cry,” says the woman, as she continues to film. 

Another video, filmed earlier and posted by the blogger Gleb Kornilov on February 28, shows the man in the red mask chasing the moose down on his snowmobile. “I’ve never had a weekend like that!” it says on the screen.

Blogger Gleb Kornilov says in the caption that this video comes from an Instagram story shared by one of the people who participated in the illegal hunt. 

'Those responsible should be punished as an example to other poachers'

The FRANCE 24 Observers team spoke with Alexey Sedoy, who said that he reposted the video in an attempt to raise awareness about poaching.

I think that these situations should be publicly investigated and those responsible should be punished as an example to other poachers. 

Nothing about this [video] is right. First of all, hunting moose is banned at this time of year. Secondly, hunting using snowmobiles is illegal. Thirdly, what you see here isn’t hunting. It’s poaching and it is animal cruelty. They chased the animal until he was exhausted. And when he lost all energy, they threw themselves on him. The moose didn’t stand a chance.

In Russia, hunting moose is only allowed between September and January and, even during hunting season, you need a permit. Using any kind of vehicle is forbidden.

The suspected poachers shown in the video were arrested on February 28. On March 2, an investigation was opened into illegal hunting. They could be sentenced to up to five years in prison and fined a million rubles (around €11,000). The investigative committee published a video showing investigators visiting the site:

This video was posted by the investigative committee in the Tver region on the social media network Vkontakte on March 2, 2021.

More than 50,000 cases of poaching were recorded in Russia in 2019. Moose are mostly hunted for their meat, which is sometimes sold online. Vladimir Krever, the director of the biodiversity preservation programme at the World Wildlife Foundation Russia, told Russian media outlet Izvestia that the main cause of poaching in Russia is socio-economic— some people hunt illegally in order to put food on the table.