Russian village dealing with 'polar bear invasion' as dozens of animals go in search of food

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By Rachael Kennedy
Russian village dealing with 'polar bear invasion' as dozens of animals go in search of food
Copyright  Maxim Dyominov/WWF

A village in northeastern Russia is working to ward off dozens of polar bears that have descended on the area in search of food.

The "invasion" of 56 bears has led to the cancellation of a number of public events in the village of Ryrkaypiy, including rehearsals for a New Year concert, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

Children are also forced to take specially scheduled buses to school.

In the meantime, two people have been assigned to patrol the outer-edges of the village to stop the bears getting in, while other volunteers have also joined in to help.

According to the head of the bear patrol Tatyana Minenko, the bears "are all thin" and are "both adult and young animals".

They are believed to have ventured close to the village after discovering walrus corpses nearby, which they are now feeding upon.

But while such a visit from polar bears isn't strictly unusual, WWF notes, a gathering of such a large number is.

"The main reason is the decline of the sea ice area due to the changing climate," WWF said in a statement.

"In the absence of ice cover, the animals are forced to go ashore in search of food."


Meanwhile, Mikhail Stishov, Arctic biodiversity projects coordinator for WWF-Russia, said: "If there is enough ice, the bears would go further north to hunt the seals.

"As the ice is not thick enough, they will stay ashore and will visit the village due to curiosity and hunger.

"Spontaneous waste deposits can attract the animals: bears will go for the smell of food waste, regardless of the availability of other food.

He added: "Gathering of polar bears are becoming more frequent, and we have to adapt and find ways to avoid conflicts between people and animals."