A group of Russian islands, The Novaya Zemlya archipelago, have been ‘invaded’ by dozens of hungry polar bears.
Evidence of the ‘invasion’ soon surfaced online, with one local posting a video on Instagram of the polar bears eating rubbish from a dump.
Novaya Zemlya’s deputy head, Alexander Minayev, said: “People are scared and afraid to leave their homes. Parents are unwilling to let their children go to school or nursery.”
The Russian branch of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has blamed the invasion of polar bears on global warming and the decline of sea ice, which could have resulted in the bears looking elsewhere for food.
A cull ‘may be necessary’
Specialists were sent out by Russian environmental authorities to sedate and remove up to 52 polar bears, classifying the situation as an ’emergency’.
Despite the animals being classified as an endangered species, meaning killing them in Russia is illegal, officials have warned that a cull ‘may be necessary’ if sedating them isn’t effective.
An endangered species
In May 2008, polar bears were officially listed as a threatened species in the US under the Endangered Species Act.
According to the WWF, this is due to: “On-going and potential loss of their sea-ice habitat resulting from climate change.”