'The people are scared': Polar bears move in on Russian Arctic settlements

A Russian Town Has Been Invaded By Ravenous Polar Bears Which Seems Chill

Russian islands declare emergency over polar bear `invasion`

"People are scared, afraid to leave the house, their daily activities are disrupted, and parents are afraid to let their children go to schools and kindergartens", said Aleksandr Minayev, deputy head of the administration of the Novaya Zemlya Municipal Educational Institution.

Around 3,000 people live on the Novaya Zemlya islands, with the BBC reporting that some residents have been attacked.

"The decision to declare an emergency situation on the territory of Novaya Zemlya from February 9 was taken at a meeting of the commission tasked to prevent emergencies and ensure fire safety", says a statement from the region's government released on Saturday.

Since December a year ago, 52 polar bears have visited the archipelago's main settlement, Belushya Guba, with six to 10 remaining in the village and some displaying "aggressive behaviour", local official Alexander Minaev said in a report to authorities.

'There are cases of aggressive behaviour of wild animals - attacks on people, penetration into residential and office buildings.

Local administration head Vigansha Musin was reported by the British news outlet as saying that the local military garrison, where air and air defense forces are based, has had over five bears come onto the base.

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. "They migrate through Novaya Zemlya heading north, where the ice is solid", the expert said.

Russia's environmental watchdog has also refused to issue licences to shoot the bears, which are an endangered species. As an alternative to shooting the bears, a team of specialists has been sent out to offer advice to residents.

The bears had lost their fear of police patrols and signals used to warn them off, meaning that more drastic measures were needed, officials said.

But warming temperatures mean ice that melts quicker and earlier in the warm season, depriving them of food and forcing them to hunt on land. This sometimes puts them at odds with humans.

Reports posted online speak of a "bear siege".

Russian nature protection agency denied a request to shoot bears in order to scare the predators away.

"When they walk under your window at night, it is creepy". "This number is extreme, so we should fly there to see", he added.

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