Russian islands declare emergency over polar bear `invasion`

Lamar Ellis
February 12, 2019

An Arctic region of Russian Federation has declared a state of emergency over a polar bear "invasion" which has left people "afraid to go outside". "A total of 50 polar bears are near the human settlements so we have loads of work ahead". Since the bears started arriving in December, people have taken to staying at home, lest they meet a toothy surprise outside.

Because polar bears are protected in Russian Federation, residents are prohibited from killing the hungry intruders, The New York Times said. "I've been on Novaya Zemlya since 1983", local administration head Vigansha Musin told The Siberian Times.

The sight of polar bears playing in the snow is usually guaranteed to bring smiles.

This included "attacks on people and entering residential homes and public buildings", said Minayev, the deputy chief of the local administration. "Parents are unwilling to let their children go to school or nursery", he added.

It's not uncommon to see polar bears near the area's southern coasts, where they regularly converge in winter for seasonal seal hunts, according to Russia's state-run news site TASS.

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'There are constantly 6 to 10 bears inside the settlement'.

Polar bears are affected by global warming with melting Arctic ice forcing them to spend more time on land where they compete for food. Polar bears migrate seasonally along the coastlines of Novaya Zemlya, he said, with the timing of their movements and concentrations dependent on sea ice conditions.

To protect the town, locals have built extra fences around schools and other sites, while special patrols try to scare off the bears with cars and dogs.

The Arkhangelsk regional authorities, which oversee Novaya Zemlya, said that if all else failed "shooting the animals could be the only possible forced measure". Attempts to scare off the polar bears using vehicle horns and dogs have all failed, the Tass news agency said.

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