Mixed reaction from Russian islanders whose town has been invaded by polar bears

World News | Published: | Last Updated:

More than 50 of the animals have been spotted in a town and some believe climate change may be responsible.

Russian wildlife specialists are heading for an Arctic archipelago to try to resolve a situation that has both terrified and delighted the locals who have seen polar bears move into a populated area.

It is not the first time that polar bears have come to Novaya Zemlya, but their numbers this time are striking.

Regional authorities in Russia declared a state of emergency over the weekend after the bears peered into homes, entered buildings and gorged at a rubbish dump outside the town.

Russia Polar Bear Invasion
An image taken from the video of a mother polar polar bear and two cubs (Muah Irinaelis/AP)

What brought them to land may be a decline in the seal population or the shrinking amount of sea ice that diminishes as the Arctic warms.

Officials do not have an immediate solution.

Actions under consideration include relocating the dump that gives the bears a banquet and removing the bears.


ZSL seal survey 2017
Some believe a decline in the seal population might explain the migration of the polar bears (Victoria Jones/PA)

“That’s just an option; at the moment it is being considered, but there’s no 100% guarantee it will be applied,” said Alexander Gornikh, regional head of the natural resources agency.

The ferocity of polar bears may worry many people, but some are also thrilled by the spectacle.

Mobile phone videos taken in the area come with sounds of humans exclaiming over bear sightings.

“Thank you! It’s so cool! We have seen polar bears,” one woman is heard saying after she spotted a female bear and two cubs.

“Bye, baby, bye!”

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