Russian islands under 'mass invasion' of polar bears

James Marshall
February 11, 2019

Russian authorities have declared a state of emergency in the remote, sparsely populated Novaya Zemlya islands in the Arctic Ocean, the BBC reported this weekend, after "dozens" of polar bears whose food sources are limited due to climate change started rooting through homes and other buildings near the settlement of Belushya Guba looking for something to eat.

Between six and 10 bears were permanently on the settlement's territory and there had been cases of bears attacking people and entering residential buildings and offices, TASS said. One of them got into the entrance hall of a block of flats, passing two prams kept there.

Novaya Zemlya head Zhigansha Musin said it was unusual for so many polar bears to show up near human settlements and the emergency will only be called off once the government was able to determine the area safe and secured.

Within the town of Belushya Guba, 52 of the animals have been counted so far - they've been spotted hunting for food in dumps and wandering around the settlement which is home to a number of Russian military personnel. "There's never been such a mass invasion of polar bears", he said.

"People are scared, afraid to leave the house, their daily activities are disrupted, and parents are afraid to let their children go to schools and kindergartens", said Aleksandr Minayev, deputy head of the administration of the Novaya Zemlya Municipal Educational Institution.

A town in Russian Federation has had a sudden invasion of more than 50 polar bears, prompting officials to declare a state of emergency.

"Compared to previous years, they come ashore in the southern part of the archipelago, where the ice is changing. They migrate through Novaya Zemlya heading to the north, where the ice is solid", Mordvintsev said. "It is migration from the south to the north. They normally would just go past, but [they are attracted] by the food".

Local officials complained that measures to scare off polar bears such as vehicle and dog patrols have not been effective as polar bears feel secure and no longer react. "But as there are bins with edible waste, they stop to flock". "This number is extreme, so we should fly there to see", he added.

Yet despite the creatures' incursion, the federal environment agency has refused to issue licenses to shoot the bears. An expert team will be dispatched to the archipelago to assess the situation and prevent the predators' attacks on humans.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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