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Remote Russian region `scared' of polar bear `invasion'

Remote Russian region `scared' of polar bear `invasion'

A town in Russian Federation has had a sudden invasion of more than 50 polar bears, prompting officials to declare a state of emergency.

Since December previous year, 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. "People are scared, afraid to leave their houses, their daily activities are disrupted, parents are afraid to let their children go to schools and kindergartens", the deputy chief of the municipality said.

One polar bear is frightening enough; measuring up to three metres long, weighing up to 800 kilograms and armed with massive claws and teeth, it is the world's largest land carnivore. The appearance of polar bears in human settlements of the Novaya Zemlya archipelago, which triggered a state of emergency in the region, has been caused by the seasonal migration of animals and available edible waste in the settlements, Ilya Mordvintsev, a lead researcher at the Severtsev Institute of Ecology and Evolution, told TASS.

There were cases of wild animals' aggression when they attacked people and entered residential buildings and offices. Between six and ten polar bears are constantly on the territory of the settlement, reported TASS.

Authorities in Russia's remote Arctic archipelago of Novaya Zemlya have taken measures to chase away a band of polar bears that had established a reign of terror over locals in recent days.

People are "afraid to go outside" and "daily life is in turmoil", said deputy head of the local administration, Aleksandr Minayev.

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Russian Federation classes them as endangered.

Polar bears are increasingly coming into contact with humans as climate change reduces their sea-ice habitats, forcing them on land for longer periods of time.

Though classified by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) as "vulnerable," Russian Federation considers polar bears an endangered species, and bans the hunting of them.

Searching the bears is banned, and the federal atmosphere agency has refused to subject licences to shoot them. Moscow has said it is sending a team of investigators to asses the situation.

They say that if other means to scare off the bears fail a cull could be the only answer.

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