(MENAFN - Gulf Times) An "invasion" of polar bears has prompted officials to
declare a state of emergency in Russia's Arctic Novaya Zemlya
archipelago, local media reported on Saturday.
The bears had begun gathering near human settlements in the
archipelago in the Arkhangelsk region in December, the news agency
TASS reported, with at least 52 spotted near the settlement of
Between six and ten bears were permanently on the settlement's
territory and there had been cases of bears attacking people and
entering residential buildings and offices, it wrote.
"The emergency situation was caused by the mass invasion of
polar bears in residential areas," the Archangelsk governor and
regional government said in a statement.
"Residents, schools and kindergartens are submitting numerous oral
and written complaints demanding to ensure safety in the settlement.
"The people are scared. They are frightened to leave homes and their
daily routines are broken. Parents are afraid to let the children go
to school or kindergarten."
Extra fences had been installed near kindergartens and special
vehicles were being used to take military personnel and employees to
work, according to TASS.
But it said the bears had not been put off by signals used to scare
them away, or by patrol cars and dogs.
An expert team has been sent to the archipelago to prevent them from
attacking people but Russia's environmental watchdog has refused to
issue licences to shoot the bears, which are an endangered species.
Melting Arctic ice has increasingly caused the animals to migrate
further south in search of food on land.
"I have been in Novaya Zemlya since 1983, but there has never been so
many polar bears in the vicinity," TASS quoted local leader Zhigansha
Musin as saying.
"If a cull is banned, we will have to embark on a longer and
less safe way for local residents," he added. "A total of 50 polar
bears are near the human settlements so we have loads of work ahead."