More than 50 polar bears have gathered near a village in Siberia in recent days, with the World Wildlife Fund saying a lack of sea ice has stopped the animals leaving shore to hunt seals.
The “bear invasion” as the WWF has called it, has led to the cancellation of public events in the far northern village of Ryrkaypiy. Schools are being guarded, and regularly patrols are being undertaken, the group said.
Polar bear sightings near human settlements are not unusual in the region, the WWF said, “but such a massive gathering of polar bears is quite unusual.” On December 5, the WWF said 56 bears were observed near the village.
“The number of human and predator encounters in the Arctic is increasing. The main reason is the decline of sea ice due to the changing climate. In the absence of ice cover, animals are forced to go ashore in search of food,” the WWF said.
The bears appear to have been attracted by walrus carcasses found near the village. “Almost all bears are thin. Among them there are both adult and young animals, there are females with cubs of different ages,” said Tatyana Minenko, the head of the village bear patrol. Credit: World Wildlife Fund via Storyful