56 hungry polar bears have wandered into Ryrkaypiy, a village in far north Russia, forcing locals to cancel their New Year’s celebrations.
It’s not unusual for a few bears to visit the village, but an invasion of this size is unheard of according to WWF.
Every winter, same weird stuff. Last winter, Russian authorities declared a State of Emergency after 52 polar bears invaded Novaya Zemlya. Well, what about these 56 new carnivors in Ryrkaypiy?
The World Wildlife Federation says the melting sea ice screws up the bears’ usual habitat, forcing them to search for food elsewhere… in villages, terrifying residents.
Yes, if there was enough ice, the bears would go further north to hunt the seals. But since the ice is currently too thin, the polar bears prefer visiting.
The polar bears have been seen eating walrus carcasses that have been on the shore since last month. According to officials, the bears are “thin” and that’s never a good sign for this time of year.
Polar bears depend on sea ice to catch their prey. The situation around Ryrkapiy is also bad. The Chukchi Sea that borders the village has seen sea ice fail to regrow in recent weeks and November levels were more akin to mid-summer.
As bears have been forced to scavenge on land more often, scientists recently estimated that plastic and other garbage makes up a quarter of polar bears’ diets in Russia.
Under the Endangered Species Act, polar bears are at risk of becoming endangered, but experts say that by all scientific measures, they’re actually at risk of extinction as two-thirds of the world’s polar bears could be gone by 2050 if their Arctic sea ice habitat continues to melt.
Gathering of polar bears are becoming more frequent, and we have to adapt and find ways to avoid conflicts between people and animals. [WWF]