Arctic Town Besieged By Polar Bears Declares State Of Emergency

Leroy Wright
February 11, 2019

Russian officials have declared a state of emergency in parts of the Novaya Zemlya archipelago after what has been described as a "mass invasion" of polar bears in the islands' human settlements.

The main settlement on the archipelago-Belushya Guba-has reported a total of 52 bears in its vicinity, with some displaying aggressive behavior. "People are scared, afraid to leave their houses, their daily activities are disrupted, parents are afraid to let their children go to schools and kindergartens", the deputy chief of the municipality said.

"Polar bears are reliant on seals for food and seals rely on sea ice".

In January, a defence ministry official said that hundreds of disused military buildings had been demolished on Novaya Zemlya because polar bears were settling inside them.

But it said the bears had not been put off by signals used to scare them away, or by patrol cars and dogs.

Head of Novay Zemlya Zhigansha Musin has said that the regime of emergency will be in place until the security of the settlements will be provided.

Authorities in the Novaya Zemlya islands, an arctic region of northern Russian Federation, said there have been cases of aggressive bears attacking people and entering homes and public buildings, ABC news reports.

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He also added that the bears are "literally chasing people and even entering the entrances of residential buildings", which sounds absolutely bloody terrifying.

"They told us there was a female polar bear with a cub, which spent its evenings under the station's windows", Shevchenko said, according to the BBC.

"There are constantly 6 to 10 bears inside the settlement", he said.

Russian Federation classes them as endangered and hunting them is banned.

Hunting the bears is banned, and the federal environment agency has refused to issue licences to shoot them.

With global warming melting arctic ice the polar bears are forced to spend more time on the land where they compete for food, according to a report by the polar bear specialist group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

A request to shoot some of the bears was sent to Moscow but has been declined as the species is endangered. They said that if the now deployed measures are unable to drive the bears away, they may need to be culled.

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