Emergency as polar bears invade Russian town

Emergency as polar bears invade Russian town

Russian authorities have deployed a team of specialists to the remote Novaya Zemlya archipelago in the Arctic region to sedate and remove dozens of hungry polar bears that have been chasing people in the area, The Guardian reported on Monday.

Russian Federation classes polar bears as an endangered species and shooting them is prohibited by law.

The sight of polar bears playing in the snow is usually guaranteed to bring smiles.

"People are scared, afraid to leave their homes, their daily routines are being broken", said Alexander Minayev, the deputy head of the local administration. "Parents are afraid to let the children go to school or kindergarten".

"Global warming is melting the ice so it has a chain reaction on how polar bears can survive", Liz Greengrass, a director at United Kingdom animal conservation charity Born Free Foundation told CNN in 2018.

The bears' move into the human settlements is clearly a result of climate change - much of the ice where they usually hunt seals in the Arctic Circle is simply not there any more. But the hunting is barred on the Russian island chain of Novaya Zemlya, which includes Belushya Guba, a restricted military zone with several small settlements adjacent to bases but no native inhabitants.

CCTV footage shows the bear strolling down the snowy streets of Belushya Guba.

News agency TASS says that some of the bears have been aggressive, attacking people and entering homes.

Local officials have complained that vehicle and dog patrols have not been effective as polar bears feel secure and no longer react.

A working group of regional and federal officials is set to visit the archipelago to assess the situation and the measures taken so far.

In January, a defence ministry official said that hundreds of disused military buildings had been demolished on Novaya Zemlya because polar bears were settling inside them.