Russia islands emergency over polar bear ‘invasion’

A remote Russian region has declared a state of emergency over the appearance of dozens of polar bears in its human settlements, local officials say.

Authorities in the Novaya Zemlya islands, home to a few thousand people, said there were cases of bears attacking people and entering residential and public buildings.

Polar bears are affected by climate change and are increasingly forced on to land to look for food.

Russia classes them as endangered. Hunting the bears is banned, and the federal environment agency has refused to issue licences to shoot them.

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.

They say that if other means to scare off the bears fail a cull could be the only answer. The archipelago’s main settlement, Belushya Guba, has reported a total of 52 bears in its vicinity, with between six and 10 constantly on its territory.

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