Invasion of the polar bears

Russian islands declare emergency over polar bear `invasion`

Polar Bears Invade Russian Town: State of Emergency Declared

While ecologists have for years warned of the risk to polar bears, the ones roaming Belushya Guba have been safe from at least one threat.

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".

The massive invasion of polar bears prompted regional officials to declare a state of emergency on Saturday (Feb. 9).

"There's never been such a mass invasion of polar bears", said Zhigansha Musin, the head of the local administration. Authorities there have reported that the tiny islands, home to just a few thousand people, are playing host to a polar bear invasion.

It's not uncommon to see polar bears near the area's southern coasts, where they regularly converge in winter for seasonal seal hunts, according to Russia's state-run news site TASS. 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.

Instead a team of specialists has been dispatched to the outpost to advice residents on other measures to discourage the bears.

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And I certainly don't see many defences keeping them quiet at the other end. "The manager called me and said 'do you think you can play?'".

"People are scared, afraid to leave their homes, their daily routines are being broken", said Alexander Minayev, the deputy head of the local administration.

'Parents are wary of letting children to go to schools and kindergartens, ' he said.

According to residents, the bears have become increasingly comfortable around humans.

It's believed that the bears are being forced into towns and villages to look for food. "When they walk under your window at night, it is creepy".

Scenes caught on video of polar bears that had come ashore, grunting and strolling through the 2,000-person settlement, suggested a dramatic symbol of climate change.

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