11 February 2019 17:30
A state of emergency was declared in the Novaya Zemlya archipelago, located in the Arctic Ocean in the northern Russian Arkhangelsk region, after groups of polar bears recently invaded human settlements in the area and started attacking people, according to a press release. "The emergency situation was caused by the mass invasion of polar bears in residential areas," a statement released by the regional government said, Russian news agency TASS reported. Alexander Minayev, the deputy head of Novaya Zemlya administration, said that between December and February, at least 52 polar bears were spotted near the settlement of Belushya Guba, a settlement in Novaya Zemlya district, some of which entered residential buildings and offices and attacked residents. Although most of the wild animals were no longer wandering near the settlements, around six to ten polar bears still remained in the area. Novaya Zemlya head Zhigansha Musin said it was unusual for so many polar bears to show up near human settlements and the emergency will only be called off once the government was able to determine the area safe and secured.
I recall that over five polar bears are in the [military] garrison chasing people and entering residential buildings. Ilya Mordvintsev, a lead researcher at the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Moscow, told TASS that the reason so many polar bears had appeared near human settlement was because of the easy availability of food sources detected during their seasonal migration. They migrate through Novaya Zemlya heading north, where the ice is solid," Mordvintsev said. Efforts to drive away the wild beasts, including using patrol cars and dogs, failed as the polar bears appeared not scared of those measures. (CNN) Parents in a remote Russian archipelago are scared to send their children to school after a "mass invasion" of polar bears into residential areas, state news agency TASS reported.
Earlier, authorities declared an emergency in the Novaya Zemlya archipelago due to the massive polar bear invasion. Authorities in Russia's remote Arctic archipelago of Novaya Zemlya have taken measures to chase away a band of polar bears that had established a reign of terror over locals in recent days. Photos and videos on social media showed polar bears entering apartment blocks and other living quarters and rummaging through garbage in the settlement of 3,000. Authorities in the Arkhangelsk region, which oversees Novaya Zemlya, declared a state of emergency on Saturday due to the mass invasion of at least 52 polar bears. Efforts to drive out the polar bears from the human habitat have partly paid off, Zhigansha Musin, the head of the municipal administration, told Russian media on Monday.
According to the BBC, officials said that the bears no longer fear either police patrols or the signals used to keep them away from humans, and that they have even crossed onto the grounds of the local air defense garrison. Though the animals are considered endangered by Russia (the IUCN Red List classifies them as "vulnerable," with a decreasing population), officials said that if non-lethal means fail to drive the bears away, they may be forced to cull the animals, the BBC added. Videos circulating on social media and posted by the Russia-based Siberian Times appeared to show bears rummaging through parts of the settlement, as well as sort of wandering around and staring at people through windows, though these videos were not independently verified by Gizmodo. Deutche Welle reported that Russian leadership in Moscow said they have sent a team of investigators to look into the situation, while deputy chief of the local administration Alexander Minayev said in a report to regional officials that some 52 polar bears have been spotted since December, Agence France-Presse wrote. "I've been on Novaya Zemlya since 1983 and there's never been such a mass invasion of polar bears," local administration head Zhigansha Musin added, AFP wrote.
Russia's northeastern Novaya Zemlya archipelago, which has a population of around 3,000 people, has appealed for help to tackle "a mass invasion of polar bears into inhabited areas," regional authorities said in a statement. Polar bears are affected by global warming with melting Arctic ice forcing them to spend more time on land where they compete for food. Since December, 52 polar bears have regularly visited the archipelago's main settlement, Belushya Guba, with some displaying "aggressive behavior," local official Alexander Minayev said in a report to regional authorities. This included "attacks on people and entering residential homes and public buildings," said Minayev, the deputy chief of the local administration. The head of the local administration Zhigansha Musin said that the numbers of polar bears were unprecedented.
At least 52 bears were massed near Belushya Guba, the main settlement on the island territory, which is still used as a military garrison, with restricted access to the public. Warning of the "mass invasion of polar bears in residential areas," local officials vowed action in response to "numerous oral and written complaints demanding to ensure safety in the settlement." "I have been in Novaya Zemlya since 1983, but there has never been so many polar bears in the vicinity," said Zhigansha Musin, a local administrative head, according to TASS, Russia's state news agency. Polar bear invasion on Novaya Zemlya as 50 wild animals besiege remote town, and chase people. Russia's Novaya Zemlya is considering a cull to repel a "mass invasion" of polar bears, like this 1 in a young family's hallway. Scientists also pointed to climate change as the reason for the aggressive behavior of a sloth of polar bears that surrounded a weather station in the Arctic in 2016, threatening a team of Russian researchers.