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

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

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.

More than 50 bears have been spotted in the archipelago’s main town of Belushya Guba.

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.

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

Polar bears mostly live on sea ice, where they hunt seals as their main food.

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.

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

The scientists coming from the national natural resources agency will be equipped to sedate the bears and haul them away.

“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!”

- Press Association

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