Dozens of Polar Bears Overtake Russian Island and Cause State of Emergency
Dozens of hungry polar bears have caused a state of emergency on a remote Russian archipelago where the animals are breaking into buildings and chasing terrified residents.
At least 52 bears were spotted near the settlement of Belushya Guba on Novaya Zemlya,
Ilya Mordvintsev, a researcher at the Severtsev Institute of Ecology and Evolution in Moscow, told TASS the bears are congregating in Belushya Guba “because there is some alternative food… As there are bins with edible waste, they stop to flock.”
Indeed, polar bears are known to raid trash dumps. In the Canadian town of Churchill, Manitoba—the polar bear capital of the world—officials were forced to close an open-air dump in 2006 after it became a hotspot for the hungry animals.
“Bears can live on almost everything. It’s a hallmark of all bear species,” Derocher said.
But garbage can’t sustain a several-hundred-pound bear for long. A study published last year in Science by Canadian and American researchers found that polar bears require a high-fat diet, such as seals, which are less abundant in iceless conditions.
So how do you tell a bear to go away?
Russia’s federal environmental agency has not issued licenses for shooting the bears—meaning that people are banned from harming them—and has instead sent a task force to Belushya Guba to assess the situation and prevent the animals from attacking humans.
The species is classified as endangered in Russia, which enacted a polar bear hunting ban in 1956.
However, BBC reported on Saturday that a cull is not out of the question if scare tactics prove unsuccessful.
“There is not much we can do to manage polar bears than to manage human behavior,” Derocher said.