Polar bears come close to people in search of food

Polar bears come close to people in search of food

1 September 2015

According to the WWF’s Polar Bear Patrol, several cases of polar bears approaching human settlements were recorded on Russia’s Arctic coast in the second half of summer 2015.


In the evening of 30 July 2015, a polar bear came close to reindeer herd No 9, threatening the reindeer and the herders. The people ran away, leaving a backpack with food to distract the animal. The herd stayed by Lake Ekongagytkin on the left bank of the Chukochya River in the Nizhnekolymsky District. The bear was not seen there again. The reindeer herders said it had left for the sea.


On 18 July, a polar bear was spotted two kilometres from the village of Varnek, and in mid-July, another bear approached the village but was scared away with the Hunter’s Signal flare gun.


This summer, polar bears were repeatedly seen near the village of Amderma, with one bear spending almost a month there, approaching the houses from time to time.


The most worrying situation came about by the Fyodorov Polar Station (north Vaygach Island), where several polar bears have settled in right by people’s homes. Two young women, meteorologists and one mechanic are now neighbours with five polar bears.


“Those who live in the Arctic should be ready to meet a polar bear,” Viktor Nikiforov, head of the WWF Russia’s Polar Bear Patrol, says. “But they have no rifles or other means to scare the animals off, and the station is not fenced in. We brought the women several flare guns and rubber bullets (they will probably get a new employee who has personal weapons), but the leaders of the Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring should solve this safety issue.”


Nikiforov also said that people in Amderma and Varnek have trouble scaring away the bears without the proper deterrents.


(Photo © Viktor Nikiforov/Ruslan Sleptsov/Margarita Petrenyuk