Polar Bears Invade Russian Town: State of Emergency Declared

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Authorities in a remote Russian arctic region have declared a state of emergency after dozens of hungry polar bears overran villages, besieging residents. Authorities declared a state of emergency in the town, which is located on the Novaya Zemlya archipelago in the Arctic Ocean. Instead they've offered to send a commission to investigate the situation but have not ruled out a cull.

Russian Federation classifies polar bears as an endangered species and shooting them is illegal.

Officials in Belushya Guba, the main town in the archipelago, have reported 52 polar bears in town.

Russia Polar Bear Invasion
An image taken from the video of a mother polar polar bear and two cubs

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.

While this story may garner attention because of how unusual it is, the grim reality is that as the climate continues to change and the habitat of polar bears and other species continues to disappear, incidents like this are likely to become the norm in the years to come.

"People are scared, and afraid to leave their homes. Parents are unwilling to let their children go to school or nursery". Officials have said that about six to ten bears are always seen roaming around in the territory.

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Local administration head Vigansha Musin said: "I've been on Novaya Zemlya since 1963". Photos and videos posted over the weekend show the bears traipsing through empty schoolyards and even infiltrating the corridors of office buildings in search of food.

Wildlife experts have warned the polar bears' incursion is the result of shrinking sea-ice, as rising Arctic temperatures due to global warming cause the ice to melt, reducing the bears' normal hunting grounds. "They have literally been chasing people". "They migrate through Novaya Zemlya heading north, where the ice is solid", Ilya Mordvintsev, a lead researcher at the Severtsev Institute of Ecology and Evolution, told TASS.

Because polar bears are protected in Russian Federation, residents are prohibited from killing the hungry intruders, The New York Times said.

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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".

The government chose to send specialists on the islands after officials in the Novaya Zemlya archipelago, with a population of about 3,000 people, sought help.

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