Published: Tue, February 12, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

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

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

Because residents of the Russian region are banned from shooting the bears, which are classified by the country's environmental watchdog as an endangered species, a team of experts is being dispatched to the archipelago-home to about 3,000 people-in hopes of preventing animal attacks, according to the Russian news agency TASS. Since the bears started arriving in December, people have taken to staying at home, lest they meet a toothy surprise outside. "Parents are unwilling to let their children go to school or kindergarten".

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. A state of emergency has been declared as dozens of bears have entered the towns in the region to look for food. But the hunting is barred on the Russian island chain of Novaya Zemlya, which includes Belushya Guba, a restricted military zone with several small settlements adjacent to bases but no native inhabitants. An Instagram user uploaded photos and a video of the hungry bears.

With rising temperatures increasingly destroying the bears' Arctic habitats, interactions with humans are becoming more common.

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The bears' move into the human settlements is clearly a result of climate change - much of the ice where they usually hunt seals in the Arctic Circle is simply not there any more. "There are no more enemies", said Anastasia Bondarenko, who is local to the area. The sea ice shifts often and is affected by a range of factors.

"I've been on Novaya Zemlya since 1983 and there's never been such a mass invasion of polar bears", he told regional officials.

Such restrictions are meant to prevent just the sort of encounters that are now terrorizing the settlement. "Constantly in the village are from six to 10 polar bears". "This is an anthropogenic problem".

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