Invasion of the polar bears

Susanne Miller  US Fish and Wildlife Service  Handout via REUTERS

Susanne Miller US Fish and Wildlife Service Handout via REUTERS

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.

The Russian town of Novaya Zemlya located on the north-eastern Arctic coast has declared an emergency over an "invasion" of dozens of aggressive polar bears that have entered homes and public buildings. They are frightened to leave homes and their daily routines are broken.

A resident said this is the first time such a large number of bears have been seen in the town.

Fifty-two hungry polar bears have occupied Guba, a work settlement in a remote Russian Arctic archipelago. Scientists have long warned that the shrinking sea ice in the Arctic poses a direct threat to the bears, and increases the likelihood of encounters with humans.

Local administrator Zhigansha Musin was quoted by Russia's state news agency as saying, "I have been in Novaya Zemlya since 1983, but there have never been so many polar bears in the vicinity".

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

So far, there are 26,000 estimated population of polar bears worldwide.

According to The Siberian Times, the town has been put in a state of emergency, but civilians have been told not to shoot the already endangered species.

Or, far more likely, the polar bears simply don't have anywhere else to go to find the sustenance and safety they need to survive and, so, they've chosen this island. Geoff York, senior director of the non-profit Polar Bears International said that polar bear attics are relatively rare but he notes that when polar bears and humans exist close together the risk of conflict will increase.

Polar bears may look cute and cuddly when you see them in YouTube videos or in Coca-Cola commercials, but we're pretty sure you wouldn't want a pack of them to invade your hometown.

The Arkhangelsk regional authorities, which oversee Novaya Zemlya, said that if all else failed "shooting the animals could be the only possible forced measure".

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