Murmansk (dpa) – Animal rights activists expect the least malnourished polar bears to forage in Russian villages on the Arctic Ocean this winter. “The situation is calm at the moment,” Dmitriy Ryabov of the WWF Environmental Foundation told dpa in Moscow.
“This year the ice formed on the sea at just the right time and polar bears moved north to hunt seals,” Ryabov said. In the past few winters, there have been serious encounters with hungry bears that have searched for food in landfills or in litter boxes. Two years ago, about 50 polar bears remained near people in the Novaya Zemlya archipelago for weeks. So the authorities declared a state of emergency.
polar bear warning system
Bears usually hunt seals on sea ice. “Because the ice sheet forms later and melts earlier, the animals go to land to find food,” Ryabov said. “They are forced to stay longer on the coast and then inevitably go to people – out of curiosity and search for food, because of smells.”
Specially trained polar bear patrols are designed to prevent animals from approaching homes or schools and attacking people. Employees are outside in cars and scaring animals with torches, for example. In recent years, a warning system has been set up in northern Russia that sounds the alarm when polar bears appear in villages. The World Wide Fund for Nature supports this work.
There are currently 20 volunteers in the Arctic villages, Ryabov said. “In the past 15 years, these patrols have resolved more than 500 dispute cases.” In addition, no one has been injured in encounters with polar bears this year.
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