Panic in Russia as Polar bears invade village

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The Novaya Zemlya archipelago in Russia's far north declared an emergency situation on Saturday, following weeks of "invasion" from belligerent polar bears.

'Parents are wary of letting children to go to schools and kindergartens, ' he said. "There is by no plan been this form of mass invasion of polar bears".

In January, a defence ministry official said that hundreds of disused military buildings had been demolished on Novaya Zemlya because polar bears were settling inside them.

The bears had no fear of signals used to scare them off as well as of patrol cars and dogs.

A team of experts would be sent to Novaya Zemlya to assess the bears' behavior, the TASS report said, adding that the country's environmental watchdog had denied licenses allowing the killing of aggressive bears.

Authorities in the Novaya Zemlya islands, home to a few thousand people, said there were cases of bears attacking people and entering residential and public buildings.

According to Aleksander Minaev, deputy head of the Novaya Zemlya municipality, from December 2018 to February 2019, large gatherings of polar bears were spotted in the vicinity of settlements on the archipelago.

According to TASS, local authorities have installed extra fences near school grounds, employees and military personnel are riding "special vehicles" to work, and patrols have been stepped up, but these measures "yielded no tangible result".

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Despite the siege, residents have been warned they face prosecution if they shoot the endangered species.

They are recognised as an endangered species in Russian Federation and hunting them is banned.

Changing weather patterns and associated melting of Arctic ice have forced polar bears to spend more time on land in search of food.

Hunting the bears is banned, and the federal environment agency has refused to issue licences to shoot them.

The Siberian Times reports that shooting in the air, sounding auto horns and erecting fences have all failed to curb the bear invasion and a team of specialists is en route to the archipelago to assesses the situation.

Although most of the wild animals were no longer wandering near the settlements, around six to ten polar bears still remained in the area.

Officials said it is hoped that firearms will not be needed to drive the bears away, but they cautioned that culling of the animals can not be ruled out.

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