Mass polar bear invasion sparks state of emergency on Russian islands

A remote group of islands in Russia have declared a state of emergency after dozens of polar bears invaded the region.

The Novaya Zemlya archipelago located in the Arctic Ocean in the northern Russian Arkhangelsk region declared a state of emergency on Saturday.

"The emergency situation was caused by the mass invasion of polar bears in residential areas," said the Arkhangelsk governor and regional government in a statement.

The deputy head of Novaya Zemlya, Alexander Minayev, says the bears began to invade in December 2018, and are still present now. 

At least 52 bears have been spotted in and around buildings in the region.

There are reports of the bears being aggressive, and according to Mr Minayev, between six to 10 polar bears are constantly on the territory.

"People are scared, they're frightened to leave their homes," said the government statement. "Their daily routines are broken. Parents are afraid to let the children go to school or kindergarten."

Extra fences have been installed near kindergartens to try and keep the children safe, and military personnel and employees are being taken to their workplaces in special vehicles.

However, these methods are doing little to dissuade the bears, as they have no fear of traditional methods to control them, reports TASS. Patrols and dogs have been unsuccessful, and environmental watchdogs have refused to issue licenses to shoot the bears.

An expert team will be dispatched to the region to assess and prevent the bear's attacks on humans.

The hope is that firearms will not be necessary, as polar bears are endangered. If experts cannot control the bears, a cull will be the only answer.