Rus­sian Arc­tic ar­chi­pel­ago sounds alarm over ag­gres­sive po­lar bears

DNA Sunday (Mumbai) - - WORLD - —AFP

Moscow: A Rus­sian Arc­tic ar­chi­pel­ago on Satur­day de­clared an emer­gency sit­u­a­tion over an “in­va­sion” of dozens of ag­gres­sive po­lar bears that have en­tered homes and pub­lic build­ings.

Rus­sia’s north­east­ern No­vaya Zemlya ar­chi­pel­ago, which has a pop­u­la­tion of around 3,000 peo­ple, has ap­pealed for help to tackle “a mass in­va­sion of po­lar bears into in­hab­ited ar­eas,” re­gional au­thor­i­ties said in a state­ment.

Rus­sian au­thor­i­ties have so far re­fused per­mis­sion to shoot the bears but are send­ing a com­mis­sion to in­ves­ti­gate the sit­u­a­tion and have not ruled out a cull.

Po­lar bears are af­fected by global warm­ing with melt­ing Arc­tic ice forc­ing them to spend more time on land where they com­pete for food.

They are recog­nised as an en­dan­gered species in Rus­sia and hunt­ing them is banned.

Rus­sia has air force and air de­fence troops based on No­vaya Zemlya.

Since De­cem­ber, 52 po­lar bears have reg­u­larly vis­ited the ar­chi­pel­ago’s main set­tle­ment, Belushya Guba, with some dis­play­ing “ag­gres­sive

behaviour,” lo­cal of­fi­cial Alexan­der Mi­nayev said in a re­port to re­gional au­thor­i­ties.

This in­cluded “at­tacks on peo­ple and en­ter­ing res­i­den­tial homes and pub­lic build­ings,” said Mi­nayev, the deputy chief of the lo­cal ad­min­is­tra­tion. “There are con­stantly 6 to 10 bears in­side the set­tle­ment,” he said.

“Peo­ple are scared, they are afraid to leave their homes... par­ents are fright­ened to let their chil­dren go to schools and kinder­gartens.”

The head of the lo­cal ad­min­is­tra­tion Zhi­gan­sha Musin said that the num­bers of po­lar bears were un­prece­dented.

“I’ve been on No­vaya Zemlya since 1983 and there’s never been such a mass in­va­sion of po­lar bears,” he told re­gional of­fi­cials.

—REUTERS

A po­lar bear seen with her young

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