Russian islands under 'mass invasion' of polar bears

Polar bears are affected by global warming with melting Arctic ice forcing them to spend more time on land where they compete for food

"A total of 50 polar bears are near the human settlements so we have loads of work ahead", declared Novaya Zemlya head Zhigansha Musin.

"I have been in Novaya Zemlya since 1983, but there has never been so many polar bears in the vicinity".

A Russian Arctic archipelago is under siege by ... polar bears?

The deputy chief of the local administration says there have been attacks already.

Minayev said: "Parents are wary of letting children to go to schools and kindergartens".

'There are cases of aggressive behaviour of wild animals - attacks on people, penetration into residential and office buildings.

The bears come and go but there are always at least "six or ten" prowling the apartment blocks, said Minayev.

A young polar bear wallows in snow at the public zoo in Russia's second city of Saint Petersburg, on December 7, 2012.

He warned the animals are "literally chasing people and even entering the entrances of residential buildings".

However, residents risk being prosecuted if they attempt to shoot the endangered bears.

Though the animals are considered endangered by Russian Federation (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.

Despite the growing threat from polar bear aggression, the country's environmental watchdog has ruled against using firepower to bring the situation under control.

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

Two polar bears walk in the snow in their enclosure at Schoenbrunn Zoo in Vienna, Austria, on March 6, 2018.

In the past, local officials have used vehicle and dog patrols to scare off the bears, but that no longer appears to be working.

However, no order has been given to kill the bears and federal authorities have declined to issue licenses that would allow locals to kill them without legal repercussions.

Polar bears have been affected by global warming and the melting of the Arctic, forcing them to spend more time off the ice to look for food. This sometimes puts them at odds with humans.

In 2016 five Russian scientists were besieged by polar bears for several weeks at a remote weather station on the island of Troynoy, east of Novaya Zemlya.

Station head Vadim Plotnikov was cited as saying that 10 adult bears and four cubs had surrounded the station.



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