Polar Bears Are Invading a Remote Russian Town

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It is about 1,200 miles northeast of Moscow.

"There are constantly 6 to 10 bears inside the settlement", he said. A state of emergency has been declared in the region. "The people are scared".

Dozens of polar bears have laid siege to a small military settlement deep in the Russian Arctic, leaving residents afraid to send their children to school or even open their front doors. "The people are scared". They are frightened to leave homes and their daily routines are broken. "Parents are unwilling to let their children go to school or nursery", officials said in a statement. But these measures seemed to have only worked as a temporary solution because the polar bears keep returning. Patrol cars, dogs and other measures are said to have had no effects on the animals. But though the receding Arctic ice has been forcing more bears off their preferred terrain, it was unclear if the latest invasion was caused by the warming seas, Russian scientists said.

"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", said a statement from the regional government released on Saturday.

Local administrator Zhigansha Musin was quoted by Russia's state news agency as saying, "I have been in Novaya Zemlya since 1983, but there have never been so many polar bears in the vicinity".

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TASS reported that the animals had tried to enter office buildings and residential quarters, and that they had chased residents and engaged in other aggressive behaviour. "However, if a cull is banned, we will have to embark on a longer and less safe way for local residents", Musin said.

However, despite desperate pleas for help, Russian authorities have so far refused permission to shoot the bears.

The Siberian Times reports that "a team of "specialists" is now on the way to the stricken town".

Conservation authorities turned down a request from the settlement to shoot the bears, which are protected in Russian Federation as an endangered species. "With Arctic sea ice diminishing as a result of climate change, polar bears are forced to change their hunting habits and spend more time on land looking for food", a BBC reporter wrote, "which potentially puts them in conflict with humans".