Emergency as polar bears invade Russian town

Remigio Civitarese
Febbraio 11, 2019

Russian authorities have deployed a team of specialists to the remote Novaya Zemlya archipelago in the Arctic region to sedate and remove dozens of hungry polar bears that have been chasing people in the area, The Guardian reported on Monday.

A state of emergency was introduced on Russia's Novaya Zemlya archipelago in the Arctic due to the massive invasion of polar bears into the territory of human settlements.

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. It is not yet clear how long the state of emergency will last in the region, which was once used for Soviet nuclear tests and is now a Russian military garrison.

It is thought that rising global temperatures have contributed to a reduction in the size of the polar bears' sea-ice habitats, forcing them onto land for longer periods of time.

In an interview with TASS, local administration chief Zhigansha Musin said that, because it is illegal to cull polar bears in Russian Federation, "we will have to embark on a longer and less safe way for local residents".

Some video footage from the islands show the polar bears feeding on rubbish at a local dump.

"People are scared, they are afraid to leave their homes. parents are frightened to let their children go to schools and kindergartens". Attempts to scare off the polar bears using vehicle horns and dogs have all failed, the Tass news agency said.

The federal environmental resources agency has refused to issue licences to shoot the most aggressive bears.

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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