The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Russian Polar Bear 'Invasion' Is a Sign of Something Much Bigger
Media reports and video footage show the bears eating garbage, appearing near school grounds and entering buildings and residential homes.
Officials said they've never seen anything like it.
"I have been in Novaya Zemlya since 1983, but there has never been so many polar bears in the vicinity," said Zhigansha Musin, a local administrative head, according to Russian news agency TASS.
The bears are considered an endangered species in Russia, so killing them is prohibited. But officials said that if non-lethal means cannot drive the animals away, they might have no choice but to cull them, the BBC noted.
The officials said the bears no longer fear either police patrols or the signals used to scare them away.
Bear invasion - 3 www.youtube.com
Some 52 polar bears have been counted near the settlement since December.
Local official Alexander Minayev said the bears were exhibiting "aggressive behavior," including "attacks on people and entering residential homes and public buildings," AFP reported.
"There are constantly six to 10 bears inside the settlement," he said. "People are scared, they are afraid to leave their homes ... parents are frightened to let their children go to schools and kindergartens."
In the Russian Arctic, the polar cap and permafrost is melting twice as fast compared to a decade ago due to rising global temperatures. The dwindling sea ice has forced polar bears to abandon their usual habitats and descend upon human settlements in search of food.
In a statement to TASS, researcher Ilya Mordvintsev of the Severtsev Institute of Ecology and Evolution said the bears were migrating north but stopped in Belushya Guba to find food.
"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," the expert said. "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."
Federal authorities in Moscow are sending a team of investigators to look into the situation, AFP reported. So far, they have refused permission to shoot the bears but they have not ruled out a cull.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
The world awakened to the hole in the ozone layer in 1985, which scientists attributed it to ozone depleting substances. Two years later, in Montreal, the world agreed to ban the halogen compounds causing the massive hole over Antarctica. Research now shows that those chemicals didn't just cut a hole in the ozone layer, they also warmed up the Arctic.
Formosa Plant May Still Be Releasing Plastic Pollution in Texas After $50M Settlement, Activists Find
On the afternoon of Jan. 15, activist Diane Wilson kicked off a San Antonio Estuary Waterkeeper meeting on the side of the road across from a Formosa plastics manufacturing plant in Point Comfort, Texas.
After Wilson and the waterkeeper successfully sued Formosa in 2017, the company agreed to no longer release even one of the tiny plastic pellets known as nurdles into the region's waterways. The group of volunteers had assembled that day to check whether the plant was still discharging these raw materials of plastics manufacturing.
Malaysia Sends Plastic Waste Back to 13 Wealthy Countries, Says It Won’t Be 'the Rubbish Dump of the World'
The Southeast Asian country Malaysia has sent 150 shipping containers packed with plastic waste back to 13 wealthy countries, putting the world on notice that it will not be the world's garbage dump, as CNN reported. The countries receiving their trash back include the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Canada.