This Exhausted Polar Bear Wandering a Siberian Suburb Is the Latest Face of the Climate Crisis
Update, June 20: The starving polar bear who has been wandering around the Siberian city of Norilsk for four days was captured Thursday by wildlife experts from the Royev Ruchey Zoo, The Siberian Times reported. She is in a "dangerous state" after eating human garbage and will be flown to the zoo tomorrow for treatment, experts said.
When the bear was first sighted, some speculated she had traveled from the Arctic seeking food. Royev Ruchey experts now say that might not be the case: it is typically males who travel long distances, and her coat is cleaner than would be expected after such a journey. Instead, they think she might have been caught by poachers as a cub and raised in or near Norilsk for her pelt. Stronger punishments for polar bear poaching were put in place last year, which may have prompted her captors to release her, the experts said.
An exhausted, starving polar bear has been spotted wandering around the Siberian city of Norilsk, Reuters reported Tuesday. It is the first time a polar bear has entered the city in more than 40 years.
The bear was first seen Sunday evening in an industrial part of the city's northeast, environmental services official Alexander Korobkin told AFP.
"He is still moving around a factory, under observation by police and the emergency services, who are ensuring his safety and those of residents," Korobkin told AFP Tuesday.
Both BBC News and Reuters identified the bear as female.
The bear had wandered hundreds of miles from its Arctic habitat to reach Norilsk, an industrial city known for nickel production. More polar bears have gone on land to search for food as the climate crisis has been shrinking the sea ice they depend upon. Parts of the Russian Arctic are melting twice as fast as they were 10 years ago, a 2018 study found. This has led to more interactions between bears and humans.
In February, Russia's Novaya Zemlya islands declared a state of emergency after polar bears entered the settlement of Belushya Guba to scavenge for food. Around 52 bears were counted near the settlement starting in December, and they were not afraid to enter human homes or buildings.
What man is doing to the planet: polar bears on a rubbish dump in Novaya Zemlya, Siberia. How dispiriting. pic.twitter.com/NwBHDmg82l— PeterMurtagh (@PeterMurtagh) February 10, 2019
In 2016, polar bears besieged five scientists at a Troynoy Island weather station in the Arctic, interfering with their work and killing one of their dogs, BBC News reported.
Local wildlife expert Oleg Krashevsky told Reuters he wasn't sure why this particular polar bear had entered Norilsk, but said it was possible she had gotten lost, because she showed signs of poor vision.
The bear lay on the ground for hours at a time Tuesday, standing only sporadically to sniff for food. Her feet were covered in mud.
State wildlife experts will arrive in the city Wednesday to examine the bear, but Krashevsky said he wasn't sure what could be done for her, since she appeared too weak to return home.
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At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.
Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
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