Russian Islands Declare Emergency After Polar Bear ‘Invasion’

Russian islands declare emergency over polar bear 'invasion'

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Videos and photos show the massive white bears entering and roving around in buildings and at a garbage dump. They are frightened to leave homes and their daily routines are broken.

Stories careening around the web over the past few days have sounded the alarm about an "invasion" of polar bears on an archipelago at the northern reaches of Russian Federation. But though the receding Arctic ice has been forcing more bears off their preferred terrain, it was unclear if the latest invasion was caused by the warming seas, Russian scientists said. But polar bears are endangered, and there are laws banning people from killing them.

The people who live on the island have been trying to scare them off.

Officials in the Arkhangelsk region of northern Russian Federation say more than 50 polar bears have been spotted in the town of Belushya Guba on the archipelago in the Arctic Ocean. "Parents are unwilling to let their children go to school or nursery".

Teachers from kindergartens and schools submitted numerous oral and written complaints asking local government bodies to ensure the safety of the area. The animals were listed as threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2008 amid concerns about climate change and reductions in habitat.

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That's exactly why Belushya Guba is seeing an unprecedented deluge of polar bears.

"I have been on Novaya Zemlya since 1983, but there has never been such an invasion of polar bears before", Zhiganshi Musin, the head of Novaya Zemlya's administration told TASS.

A working group of regional and federal officials is set to visit the archipelago to assess the situation and the measures taken so far. The island is located in east of Novaya Zemlya.

Bears are constantly inside a military garrison and "literally chase people" as well as going into the entrances of blocks of flats, another official said. Short of less violent options, the only alternative might be to cull the population, although Russia's main environmental watchdog has so far refused to issue hunting licenses to civilians. A state of emergency was announced on Saturday, with up to 10 polar bears reportedly on the settlement's territory at any given time.

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