MOSCOW, Feb 10 (BSS/TASS) – The Novaya Zemlya archipelago, located in the
Arctic Ocean in the northern Russian Arkhangelsk region, has declared a state
of emergency after dozens of polar bears ‘invaded’ human settlements, the
Archangelsk governor and regional government said in a press release.
“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,” says the statement released on
“The emergency situation was caused by the mass invasion of polar bears in
residential areas,” it said.
According to Alexander Minayev, the deputy head of Novaya Zemlya
administration, dozens of polar bears gathered near human settlements from
December 2018 until February 2019. At least 52 polar bears were spotted near
the settlement of Belushya Guba. There were cases of wild animals’ aggression
when they attacked people and entered residential buildings and offices.
Between six and ten polar bears are constantly on the territory of the
“Residents, schools and kindergartens are submitting numerous oral and
written complaints demanding to ensure safety in the settlement. The people
are scared. They are frightened to leave homes and their daily routines are
broken. Parents are afraid to let the children go to school or kindergarten,”
says the statement.
Extra fences were installed near the kindergartens to ensure the children’s
safety. The military personnel and employees are delivered to workplaces by
special vehicles, while the area is patrolled. Nonetheless, the measures
yielded no tangible result. The bears had no fear of signals used to scare
them off as well as of patrol cars and dogs.
Russian environmental watchdog bans polar bears’ shooting
The Russian environmental watchdog has refused to issue licenses for
shooting the most aggressive polar bears.
An expert team will be dispatched to the archipelago to assess and prevent
the predators’ attacks on humans. The experts hope that firearms will not be
needed to warn off the endangered species. However, provided that those
measures do not help solve the situation, a cull will remain the only and
Novaya Zemlya head Zhigansha Musin said that the emergency would be
effective until the local people’s safety was ensured.
“I have been in Novaya Zemlya since 1983, but there has never been so many
polar bears in the vicinity. I recall that over five polar bears are in the
[military] garrison chasing people and entering residential buildings.
However, if a cull is banned, we will have to embark on a longer and less
safe way for local residents,” Musin said.
“A total of 50 polar bears are near the human settlements so we have loads
of work ahead,” he concluded.