- At least 52 polar bears have overrun the main settlement on an Arctic Russian island. They are reportedly attacking residents and going in houses.
- The influx of bears into Belushya Guba, on Novaya Zemlya, started in December 2018 but got so bad the governor of the wider Archangelsk region declared a state of emergency on Saturday.
- Videos posted on social media show bears wandering through houses, climbing walls, and patrolling roads in packs.
- “The people are scared. They are frightened to leave homes and their daily routines are broken,” the deputy head of Novaya Zemlya’s administration said.
- Multiple studies warn melting ice caps are causing polar bears to leave their natural habitats in search of new food sources and shelter.
Dozens of polar bears are invading a remote Russian town in the Arctic Circle, after the natural ice caps where they usually live started to melt.
At least 52 bears have attempted to enter homes and offices, chased people down streets, and attacked residents in Belushya Guba, on the island of Novaya Zemlya in Russia’s Archangelsk region, Russian news agency TASS reported.
People have documented the influx, and videos posted on social media show bears wandering through houses, climbing walls, and patrolling roads in packs.
The caption on the photo below reads: “The polar bear is the owner of the archipelago!”
This polar bear was caught on camera as it wandered through a home:
Polar Bear enters hallway of a residential building in Russia Novaya Zemlya Но́вая Земля́ Белу́шья Губа́ #SundayMorning #MCICHE #TearItUpBTS #MondayMotivaton #WallStreet #NYC pic.twitter.com/6f9pn73sf2
— Nick (@realNick1st) February 10, 2019
This video shows a bear climbing a wall in the town, while others search through trash lining a road.
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State of emergency is declared after more than 50 polar bears invade Russian town and 'chase terrified residents' An #arcticregion of #Russia has declared a state of emergency over a polar bear 'invasion' which has left people 'afraid to go outside'. The aggressive bears have entered homes and public buildings in the remote #NovayaZemlya archipelago – home to around 3,000 people – where officials have warned of a 'mass invasion'. Since December 52 #polarbears have regularly visited the archipelago's main settlement, #BelushyaGuba, with some displaying 'aggressive behaviour'. People are 'afraid to go outside' and 'daily life is in turmoil', said the deputy head of the local administration, Aleksandr Minayev. 'Parents are wary of letting children to go to schools and kindergartens,' he said. 'There are cases of aggressive behaviour of wild animals – attacks on people, penetration into residential and office buildings. 'There are constantly 6 to 10 #bears inside the settlement.' Bears are constantly inside a military garrison and 'literally chase people' as well as going into the entrances of blocks of flats, another official said. Despite the siege, residents have been warned they face prosecution if they shoot the endangered species. A request to #Moscow to allow the shooting of some bears has met with a flat refusal from nature preservation bosses. Instead a team of specialists has been dispatched to the outpost to advice residents on other measures to discourage the bears. Local officials have complained that vehicle and dog patrols have not been effective as polar bears feel secure and no longer react. Polar bears are affected by #globalwarming with melting 'Arctic ice forcing them to spend more time on land where they compete for food. Russia has air force and air defence troops based on Novaya Zemlya. The archipelago in the Arctic was used by the USSR for nuclear tests.
The influx started in December 2018. But in early February, unprecedented numbers arrived. A state of emergency was declared by the Archangelsk regional government on Saturday.
Around 3,000 people live on Novaya Zemlya.
“The emergency situation was caused by the mass invasion of polar bears in residential areas,” governor Igor Orlov said.
Alexander Minayev, the deputy head of Novaya Zemlya, said: “The people are scared. They are frightened to leave homes and their daily routines are broken. Parents are afraid to let the children go to school or kindergarten.”
“Residents, schools and kindergartens are submitting numerous oral and written complaints demanding to ensure safety in the settlement.”
Authorities have now erected fences around kindergartens and playgrounds to protect children, Minayev said.
TASS reported some residents are being taken to work in special military vehicles to avoid any possible run-ins with bears, and Russia’s environmental watchdog said it will not be giving out licenses to shoot aggressive bears.
Residents posted videos and photos of the invasion to social media.
Polar bears are the largest species of bear on the planet, and males can weigh 450 kilograms. When they stand on their hind legs they can reach three meters in height.
Studies have warned that sea ice is melting, forcing bears to travel to dry land, change their hunting habits, or to travel further afield to find food.
One predictions says in 2050, there will be 30% fewer polar bears due to the loss of sea ice.