Published: Thu, February 14, 2019
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Invasion of the polar bears

Invasion of the polar bears

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

Stories careening around the web over the past few days have sounded the alarm about an "invasion" of polar bears on an archipelago at the northern reaches of Russian Federation.

Russian Islands is in a state of high alert after a group of more than 50 polar bears invaded the region. But polar bears are endangered, and there are laws banning people from killing them.

A local official named Alexander Minayev caught a glimpse of 52 polar bears between December and February near Belushya Guba, a settlement on the Novaya Zemlya archipelago in the Arctic Ocean as reported by the TASS news agency.

The advent of the bears has caused quite some panic with citizens claiming they are "afraid to go outside" and that their 'daily life is in turmoil.' According to the BBC, there have been cases of bears attacking people and even entering buildings.

"Residents, schools, and kindergartens are submitting numerous oral and written complaints demanding to ensure safety in the settlement", the statement continued.

Over fifty bears enter small townThe Washington Post reports: Fences have risen around kindergartens.

Russian wildlife specialists are heading for an Arctic archipelago to try to resolve a situation that has both terrified and delighted the locals who have seen polar bears move into a populated area. 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.

So far, there are 26,000 estimated population of polar bears worldwide.

Russia's Federal Service for Supervision of Nature Management has refused to issue licenses to shoot the most aggressive of the lot. Instead, a task force was sent to the region to assess the situation. The bears are coming into human settlements as their habitat is affected by climate change and they are forced on land to hunt for food.

It is not the first time that polar bears have come to Novaya Zemlya, but their numbers this time are striking.

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