Russian archipelago declares emergency after mass ‘invasion’ of polar bears

Susanne Miller  US Fish and Wildlife Service  Handout via REUTERS

Susanne Miller US Fish and Wildlife Service Handout via REUTERS

Guardian reported that a team of specialists have been deployed by Russian environmental authorities to the islands located in a remote Arctic region to sedate these polar bears.

The move came after officials in the Novaya Zemlya archipelago, with a population of about 3,000 people, appealed for help.

Russian authorities have so far refused permission to shoot the bears but are sending a commission to investigate the situation and have not ruled out a cull.

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It is thought that rising global temperatures have contributed to a reduction in the size of the polar bears' sea-ice habitats, forcing them onto land for longer periods of time.

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

WWF Russia, meanwhile, warned that the effects of climate change that have driven the polar bears to interact with the human population will also affect tigers and reindeer in Siberia and the Russian Far East.

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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. "Constantly in the village are from six to 10 polar bears".

The video was filmed on January 21 but emerged online recently after news about a "polar bear evasion" grabbed headlines in Russian Federation. "Parents are afraid to let the children go to school or kindergarten".

"I've been on Novaya Zemlya since 1983 and there's never been such a mass invasion of polar bears", he told regional officials. "They have literally been chasing people". Photos and videos posted over the weekend show the bears traipsing through empty schoolyards and even infiltrating the corridors of office buildings in search of food. 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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