Emergency as polar bears invade Russian town

Christopher Davidson
February 13, 2019

"People are scared, they are afraid to leave their homes. parents are frightened to let their children go to schools and kindergartens". Videos have appeared of dozens of the animals rooting through a nearby garbage dump and CCTV footage shown on Russian Federation state television revealed a bear wandering through the hallway of a building.

Local administrator Alexander Minayev said bears had attacked people and entered buildings.

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. "There's never been such a mass invasion of polar bears". "They have literally been chasing people", Zhigansha Musin, the head of the local administration, told Guardian. The mammals were undeterred, continuing to pose a "threat to the life and health" of residents, officials said.

So far, Russia's environmental watchdog has withheld licences for shooting the troublesome animals.

Authorities have tried numerous ways to try and scare the polar bears away, but none of these measures have reportedly worked until now. Models suggest that arctic sea ice is declining at a rate of almost 13 per cent per decade.

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The truth is, we don't know exactly why these polar bears are running amok on a remote Russian island.

A team of specialists is being flown into Novaya Zemlya, an archipelago with a population of less than 3,000 people, to assist in removing the bears, which have been gathering in populated areas in increasingly large numbers since December, according to local authorities.

"Compared to previous years, they come ashore in the southern part of the archipelago, where the ice is changing". The marine animals are highly vulnerable to climate change, the authors found, because of their dependence on icy conditions in acquiring their preferred fare, seals, as well as other animals that sustain them, including fish and waterfowl. A female's reproductive capacities may falter.

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.

The invasion in Russian Federation, in testing the nerves of the local population, is also testing how firmly those walls stand.

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