Russian Town Chases Out Rowdy Polar Bear Invaders

Clay Curtis
February 12, 2019

A remote archipelago in the north of Russian Federation has declared a state of emergency after an invasion of polar bears sparked concerns among the region's residents, according to state media.

Russian authorities have so far refused permission to shoot the bears but are sending a commission to investigate the situation and have not ruled out a cull.

According to the American newspaper, at least 52 bears were found near Belushya Guba, the main settlement on the island, which is still used as a military garrison.

The accumulation of polar bears around human settlements has been observed since December.

The state of emergency was declared February 9 due to the "mass invasion of polar bears in residential areas", said Alexander Minayev, deputy head of the Novaya Zemlya administration, in a statement. 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.

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The worrying migration of bears began late a year ago when the animals started to flock to the settlements of Novaya Zemlya en masse, seeking food at local dumps and harassing residents and their pets. It was said that polar bears attack people and try to enter houses where people either live or work. "Constantly in the village are from six to 10 polar bears".

Musin's deputy Alexander Minayev said people were scared and afraid of leaving their homes.

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

"I've been on Novaya Zemlya since 1983 and there's never been such a mass invasion of polar bears", he told regional officials. "They have literally been chasing people", Zhigansha Musin, the head of the local administration, told Guardian.

Some residents of Belushya Guba took to social media to show their own video and photos of the bears, and express their shock. The residents of the island tried to scare off the polar bears using auto horns and dogs, but in vain.

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