MOSCOW (DPA) - Residents of a Russian town in the Arctic Novaya Zemlya archipelago are set to receive military protection against an influx of hungry polar bears, the authorities said on Friday (Feb 15).
The town, Belushya Guba, has implemented an "emergency situation regime" in the past week, as more than 50 polar bears came into residential areas, the local administration reported.
"It is impossible to run away from a polar bear!" the administration said in a statement.
"Due to a deficit of food, polar bears can turn their attention to any potential source of food, including a human."
Media reports have said that expanses of ice that traditionally provide natural hunting grounds for the bears have receded amid relatively high temperatures.
The military said in its official newspaper of record, Krasnaya Zvezda (Red Star), that it would defend the local residents against bears with "aggressive behaviour" as measures are implemented to prevent a future inundation.
An open dump near the town is set to be converted into a rubbish incineration plant within the next two years so that it will no longer attract bears seeking food.
But there is hope, the military said, despite a significant rise in the number of bears in the area during the past two weeks.
That's because an ice cover has formed amid recently falling temperatures. The new ice could turn the bears' attention to their natural prey - seals - the military said.