Remote Russian archipelago lifts state of emergency after polar bears invaded region

A state of emergency has been lifted in a remote Russian archipelago after at least 52 polar bears invaded Novaya Zemlya.

The Guardian reported that environmental authorities in Russia sent a team of specialists to the region to sedate and remove the bears from the archipelago of about 3,000 people.

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“There’s never been such a mass invasion of polar bears,” local administration head Zhigansha Musin, said. “They have literally been chasing people.”

Polar bears were seen roaming halls of an apartment and wandering in landfills in the area.

Shooting polar bears is against the law in Russia, as they are an endangered species. Some residents have tried to scare the bears off by honking car horns and using dogs to no avail, according to TASS Russian News Agency.

Musin told TASS  “round-the-clock patrolling and monitoring, as well as control over the dump sites” were measures taken to thin out the bears in the region. Scientists and experts were airlifted to the archipelago Thursday.

"No bears have been spotted in Belushya Guba or around it for the past 24 hours," an unnamed source from the Arkhangelsk regional department of the Russian Federal Service for Supervision of Natural Resources told TASS. "Their numbers have thinned out near the other settlements compared to the previous week."

The state of emergency was declared Feb. 9 and lifted Tuesday.

NBC News reported that waning sea ice may be to blame for the bears invading the region.

"Compared to previous years, they come ashore in the southern part of the archipelago, where the ice is changing. They migrate through Novaya Zemlya heading north, where the ice is solid," Ilya Mordvintsev, a lead researcher at the Severtsev Institute of Ecology and Evolution, told TASS. "It is migration from the south to the north. They are staying in that location (near Belushya Guba) because there is some alternative food. They could have gone past but for the food. But as there are bins with edible waste, they stop to flock."

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