14 Feb 2019 15:54

Number of polar bears troubling town on Novaya Zemlya on decline - official

ARKHANGELSK. Feb 14 (Interfax) - The number of polar bears has been declining in the vicinity of Belushya Guba on the Novaya Zemlya archipelago in the Arkhangelsk region, Novaya Zemlya urban district head Zhigansha Musin told Interfax, citing the monitoring data.

"We are monitoring bear migration patterns. Bears have not been visiting the town for the past five days. Bear patrols are at work, they are driving bears away. We are also monitoring the situation throughout the town. There was a blizzard on Monday and we were unable to count numbers, but we saw 20 bears on Tuesday, 12 on Wednesday, and nine today," Musin said.

The emergency status on the archipelago will be withdrawn if the number of bears in the Belushya Guba area drops to an average, he said.

"Three to five bears live near the town permanently, but do not cross its limits. I will withdraw the emergency status as soon as their number drops to this indicator," Musin said.

A commission of the Federal Service for Supervision of Use of Natural Resources (Rosprirodnadzor) again was unable to depart for Novaya Zemlya on Thursday because of bad weather. Scientists are on standby. The flight might be permitted in the afternoon, he said.

The emergency status in the Novaya Zemlya urban district was declared on February 9 following frequent appearances of polar bears in Belushya Guba. The local authorities said there were 25 polar bears in the area, and five to ten of them were constantly present in the town. The bears chased local residents, went into lobbies of residential buildings, and fed on waste dumps.