Disappearing Arctic sea ice is hurting polar bears ability to hunt and they are reproducing at just one-fifth of where they were at 20 years ago.
Russia might be famous for its bears, but this is ridiculous.
An invasion of about 50 polar bears has caused an “emergency situation” in the small Russian settlement of Belushya Guba, according to the TASS news agency. The town is located on the Novaya Zemlya archipelago in the Arctic Ocean, about 1,200 miles northeast of Moscow.
“The people are scared,” said Alexander Minayev, the deputy head of Novaya Zemlya.
“They are frightened to leave homes and their daily routines are broken,” Minayev said in a statement. “Parents are afraid to let the children go to school or kindergarten.”
The bears arrived in December and have acted aggressively since then, attacking people and entering residents and businesses.
“I have been in Novaya Zemlya since 1983, but there has never been so many polar bears in the vicinity,” said Zhigansha Musin, the head of Novana Zemlya.
There could be a connection to global warming: Melting Arctic sea ice has forced polar bears to spend more time on land, where they compete for food. Scientists have long warned that the shrinking sea ice in the Arctic poses a direct threat to the bears – and increases the likelihood of encounters with humans, according to CBS News.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature says there are approximately 26,000 polar bears on earth. The species is categorized as “vulnerable.” In the United States, it’s considered a threatened species.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature estimates the population could decrease by 30 to 50 percent if the loss of sea ice continues.
“Two-thirds of the world’s polar bears could die out by 2050,” the World Wildlife Fund has said.
This particular invasion in Russia might last a while. The Russian government has refused to issue licenses to shoot the most aggressive polar bears, TASS reports. But the government has sent a team of experts to the archipelago to assess and prevent attacks on humans.
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