Russian islands declare emergency after mass invasion of polar bears

Russian islands declare emergency over polar bear `invasion`

"The decision to declare an emergency situation on the territory of Novaya Zemlya from February 9 was taken at a meeting of the commission tasked to prevent emergencies and ensure fire safety", said a statement from the regional government released on Saturday.

Local administrator Alexander Minayev said bears had attacked people and entered buildings.

The influx of polar bears has steadily climbed as the affects of climate change drive the large predators further inland to seek food as the Arctic ice melts depriving them of rich hunting grounds. 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.

Polar bears are classified as an endangered species in Russian Federation and shooting them is prohibited by law.

More news: Angry polar bears are terrorizing Russian villagers

"I've been on Novaya Zemlya since 1983", he added.

According to the American newspaper, at least 52 bears were found near Belushya Guba, the main settlement on the island, which is still used as a military garrison.

The move came after officials in the Novaya Zemlya archipelago, with a population of about 3,000 people, appealed for help. They are frightened to leave homes and their daily routines are broken. At the same time, it was said that polar bears do not show any reaction in response to people's attempts to scare them off. People try to use noise signals, patrol vehicles and dogs to scare the bears away, although to no avail. An Instagram user uploaded photos and a video of the hungry bears. Attempts to scare off the polar bears using auto horns and dogs have all failed, the Tass news agency said.

The federal environmental resources agency has refused to issue licences to shoot the most aggressive bears. But these measures seemed to have only worked as a temporary solution because the polar bears keep returning.

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