The northern Russian Arkhangelsk region, which sits north of European Russia and contains the Novaya Zemlya archipelago in the Berents Sea, is overrun with polar bears, with dozens of the creatures invading human settlements.
Since December, at least 52 polar bears have been seen in the archipelago's primary settlement, Belushya Guba. "People are scared, afraid to leave their houses, their daily activities are disrupted, parents are afraid to let their children go to schools and kindergartens", the deputy chief of the municipality said.
"I've been on Novaya Zemlya since 1983", he said in an official press release.
The bears are said to no longer react to lights and noises created to drive them out of the town but extra measures such as additional fencing have been implemented in the region.
Musin's deputy, Alexander Minayev, said the bears were exhibiting "aggressive behavior", including "attacks on people and entering residential homes and public buildings", the AFP news agency reported.
Novaya Zemlya is also home to a military garrison, where the bears have "literally chased people".
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"Global warming is melting the ice so it has a chain reaction on how polar bears can survive", Liz Greengrass, a director at United Kingdom animal conservation charity Born Free Foundation told CNN in 2018.
'There are constantly 6 to 10 bears inside the settlement'. They are staying in that location [near Belushya Guba] because there is some alternative food. This forced the government to install fences near kindergartens to ensure children's safety and provide special vehicles which would drive military personnel and employees to workplaces.
The arctic animals are recognized as endangered species in Russian, and hunting them is banned.
Russia's Federal Service for Supervision of Nature Management has refused to issue licenses to shoot the most aggressive of the lot.
"A total of 50 polar bears are near the human settlements so we have loads of work ahead", declared Novaya Zemlya head Zhigansha Musin. They said that if the now deployed measures are unable to drive the bears away, they may need to be culled.
Polar bears have been affected by global warming and the melting of the Arctic, forcing them to spend more time off the ice to look for food.
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