Saturday, 20 April, 2019

Polar bear invasion in Novaya Zemlya archipelago caused by seasonal migration

Alarm sounded as polar bears'invade Russian Arctic archipelago Polar bears are recognised as an endangered species in Russia and hunting them is banned
Jeannette Daniel | 11 February, 2019, 18:53

The focus is the town of Belushya Guba where 52 polar bears have been counted scavenging for food in local dumps and wandering around the settlement. "Parents are afraid to let the children go to school or kindergarten", says the statement.

From December 2018 to February 2019 there has been a large accumulation of polar bears around settlements, ' said Minayev.

Attempts to drive them away using patrol cars and dogs have been futile, according to officials.

Residents of Novaya Zemlya, a remote Arctic island, have seen a huge influx of "predatory" bears who are said to "walk insolently" inside apartment buildings and offices. Up to ten bears were there constantly.

Some of the animals have attacked people and entered residential buildings, the agency said.

Ilya Mordvintsev, a lead researcher at the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Moscow, told TASS that the reason so many polar bears had appeared near human settlement was because of the easy availability of food sources detected during their seasonal migration.

Belushya Guba is the main settlement on a remote archipelago to the north of the Russian mainland.

More news: Significant snow, freezing rain, strong winds threatening Tuesday: Environment Canada

Extra fences had been installed near kindergartens and special vehicles were being used to take military personnel and employees to work, according to TASS.

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

With Arctic sea ice diminishing as a result of climate change, polar bears are forced to change their hunting habits and spend more time on land looking for food - which potentially puts them in conflict with humans.

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.

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

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

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.

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