Polar Bears Invade Russian Town: State of Emergency Declared


Efforts to drive out the polar bears from the human habitat have partly paid off, Zhigansha Musin, the head of the municipal administration, told Russian media on Monday.

The bears prefer ice but also use islands and shorelines to move about the Arctic.

The state of emergency was declared February 9 due to the "mass invasion of polar bears in residential areas", said Alexander Minayev, deputy head of the Novaya Zemlya administration, in a statement.

He said: "People are scared, afraid to leave their homes, their daily routines are being broken, and parents are unwilling to let their children go to school or kindergarten". There are reports that the bears are facing a cull, despite polar bears being listed as a threatened species - the worldwide population is estimated at 26,000.

Russian Federation classes polar bears as endangered and hunting them is banned.

Footage from the Novaya Zemlya archipelago shows the animals roaming through building and exploring populated areas. "Now the bears are increasingly on the shores on account of the absence of ice for long periods".

The bears, which seemed to be unfrightened by the dogs, have already attacked communities, as well as, injured people as they entered residential lots and buildings, the agency added.

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The settlement put up additional fencing around schools and arranged for children to be driven to and from class.

Wildlife experts have warned the polar bears' incursion is the result of shrinking sea-ice, as rising Arctic temperatures due to global warming cause the ice to melt, reducing the bears' normal hunting grounds.

Something unusual is happening in Novaya Zemlya, a remote, northern Russian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean.

Scientists in Russian Federation said thinning sea ice could be an explanation for the invasion.

And neither are ill-advised human actions that can lure the bears. Special vehicles transport military personnel to their work sites.

Such restrictions are meant to prevent just the sort of encounters that are now terrorizing the settlement.

But the statement from the town says if there is no way to scare the bears away, killing them will be a last resort. "This is an anthropogenic problem".