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Hungry Polar Bears Trap Scientists Inside Arctic Weather Station

Climate

A team of Russian scientists on a remote Arctic island were rescued by a passing ship after being trapped for days inside their weather station by hungry polar bears.

The Polar Bear Programme

The scientists were staying on Troynoy Island located in the Kara Sea north of Siberia when, on Aug. 31, a polar bear ate one of their two dogs and wouldn't leave.

Researchers' encounters with polar bears on Troynoy Island is fairly common, Vassiliy Shevchenko, head of the Sevgidromet State Monitoring Network, told The Guardian.

However, Yelena Novikova, a spokeswoman for Sevgidromet, told The Guardian the ongoing reduction in sea ice due to climate change has caused the polar bear population to grow increasingly aggressive.

"The ice receded quickly and the bears didn't have time to swim to other islands," Novikova said. "There's no food on [Troynoy] island, so they came up to the station."

Vadim Plotnikov, the head of the weather station on Troynoy Island, told TASS Russian News Agency there were about 10 adult bears, including four female bears with cubs, spotted around the weather station. One of the female bears even started sleeping underneath one of the windows, Plotnikov said.

Trapped inside and out of flares to spook the bears, the team became desperate. They called for help and were told they would have to wait a month for the next scheduled supply ship. But then, help arrived. A Russian expedition ship was able to reach them and give the scientists the dogs and flares they needed, TASS reported Wednesday. The ship's crew even helped them scare off the bears.

Polar bears are registered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and in the Red Book of Russia as an endangered species.

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