Because residents of the Russian region are banned from shooting the bears, which are classified by the country's environmental watchdog as an endangered species, a team of experts is being dispatched to the archipelago-home to about 3,000 people-in hopes of preventing animal attacks, according to the Russian news agency TASS.
However, despite desperate pleas for help, Russian authorities have so far refused permission to shoot the bears.
The state of emergency was declared February 9 due to the "mass invasion of polar bears in residential areas", said Alexander Minayev, deputy head of the Novaya Zemlya administration, in a statement.
"Polar bears are reliant on seals for food and seals rely on sea ice".
Records reveal that since since December, 52 polar bears have regularly visited the archipelago's main settlement, Belushya Guba, with some displaying "aggressive behaviour", local authorities have reported.
Polar bears are classified as an endangered species in Russian Federation and shooting them is prohibited by law. A specialist group will be deployed to figure out how best to remove the bears.
Local people are scared, they are afraid to leave their houses, daily activities have been disrupted, parents do not let their children go to schools and kindergartens. "They have literally been chasing people". An Instagram user uploaded photos and a video of the hungry bears.
Local officials complained that measures to scare off polar bears such as vehicle and dog patrols have not been effective as polar bears feel secure and no longer react. However, the authorities decided not to shoot the predators, even most aggressive ones.
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.
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They said that if the now deployed measures are unable to drive the bears away, they may need to be culled. The arctic animals are recognized as endangered species in Russian, and hunting them is banned.
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