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Polar bears invading remote Russian settlements

2019-02-10

Polar bears are forced on to land to look for food as sea ice diminishes (Wolfgang Kaehler/Getty Images)

A remote Russian region has declared a state of emergency after dozens of polar bears started encroaching on settlements, local officials said.

Authorities in the Novaya Zemlya islands, which are home to several thousand people, stated there were incidents in which the mammoth creatures were attacking people and roaming through buildings.

But hunting the bears is banned, and the federal environment agency isn’t allowing them to be shot, reported BBC News.

The animals, which Russia classifies as endangered, are significantly being affected by climate change and are being forced on to land to look for food. As Arctic sea ice slowly disappears, polar bears are forced to change their hunting habits and spend more time on land looking for food.

The bears are also losing their fear of police and signals to scare them off, meaning that more drastic measures were needed, said officials.

“I’ve been on Novays Zemyla since 1983,” said administrator Vigansha Musin in a press release. “There’s never been such a mass invasion of polar bears.”

His deputy said normal life was being disrupted by the threat.

“People are scared, afraid to leave their homes, their daily routines are being broken, and parents are unwilling to let their children go to school or kindergarten,” Alexander Minayev, the deputy head of the local administration said.