In one remote Russian archipelago, parents no longer feel safe sending their kids to school due to an invasion of polar bears. Since December, at least 52 bears have been terrorizing the residents of Novaya Zemlya, which is now under a state of emergency.
“People are scared. They are frightened to leave homes, and their daily routines are broken,” Alexander Minayev, a local school administrator, told CNN. “Parents are afraid to let the children go to school or kindergarten.”
In Belushya Guba, the region’s largest settlement with a population of about 2,500 people, the bears have been spotted entering residential areas and homes, rummaging through trash, and even chasing residents through the town. People have shared some of the shocking footage on social media.
“I have been on Novaya Zemlya since 1983, but never before has there been such a massive invasion of polar bears.” Zhigansha Musin, head of the municipal administration, explained to ITV.
Authorities are working to safely remove the polar bears from the town without injuring the creatures, whose population as a whole has been decreasing as a result of climate change. Because they’re considered an endangered species in Russia, people are banned from shooting or killing them.
Currently, officials have tried building fences to keep out the unwelcome intruders and using dogs to scare them away. They also offer escorts that take kids to and from school.
“We are chasing the bears away with the tools that we have,” Musin told local news agency RIA Novosti, adding that “their number is now smaller than 50, [but] we can’t calculate [accurately] due to the weather.”
However, Russia’s TASS reported that “provided that those measures do not help solve the situation, a cull will remain the only and forced answer,” implying that authorities may resort to hunting the polar bears if all else fails.