Published: Sun, December 08, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Polar bears feast on walrus carcasses in rare footage

Polar bears feast on walrus carcasses in rare footage

More than 50 polar bears have descended on a village in Russian Federation, prompting residents to cancel public events and start patrols in the area.

Environmentalists and residents said weak Arctic ice has left the bears unable to roam, with the Russian branch of the World Wildlife Fund saying climate change was to blame, as unusually warm temperatures prevented coastal ice from forming.

Drone footage has captured a pack of polar bears feasting on walrus carcasses near a village in far east Russian Federation.

"If there is enough ice, the bears would go further north to hunt the seals".

The WWF are concerned they could enter the village, home to fewer than 1,000 people, and patrols had been set up to monitor their movements.

"Almost all the bears are thin", said Tatyana Minenko, Ryrkapiy's head of polar bear patrol in the Chukotka autonomous district.

The animals were "both adult and young. there were females with cubs of different ages", she said, adding that nearly all of them appeared to be thin. Until ice coverage becomes thick enough again, the bears will remain on land and search for food along the shore, he said.

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A reassessment of their habitat in 2015 found there was a "high probability" that the global polar bear population will decline by more than 30% over the next 35 to 40 years.

Villagers say they are waiting for stronger ice to form so that the bears leave the area.

But while such a visit from polar bears isn't strictly unusual, WWF notes, a gathering of such a large number is.

Experts described the polar bears seen outside the village of Ryrkaypiy as skinny as the animals migrate past the remote Siberian settlement.

The polar bears have traveled close to the village.

Video shared on social media shows a lumbering polar bear whose back had been branded with "T-34", the name of an old Soviet Union tank.

Polar bears regularly visit areas inhabited by humans in Arctic Russia to search for food, often in rubbish tips.

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