Russian town declares state of emergency over polar bear invasion

A remote region in Russia has declared a state of emergency over the invasion of dozens of polar bears which has left people afraid to go outside.

Authorities in the Novaya Zemlya islands, an arctic region of northern Russia, said there have been cases of aggressive bears attacking people and entering homes and public buildings, ABC news reports.

The deputy head of the local administration, Aleksandr Minayev, said since December about 50 polar bears regularly have been in the area where around 3 000 people live, reports the New York Post.

"Parents are wary of letting children go to school and kindergarten. There are cases of aggressive behaviour of wild animals – attacks on people, penetration into residential and office buildings," he said.

"There are constantly six to 10 bears inside the settlement."

Zhigansha Musin, a local official who’s lived in the area since 1983, said he'd never witnessed such a large influx of polar bears.

"These bears are fearless, and they literally chase people," he said.

Despite the invasion, residents have been cautioned against shooting and will face prosecution if they do, as polar bears are classified as an endangered species in Russia, Daily Mail reports.

A team of specialists and federal officials have been sent to the region to assess the situation but if there's no drastic improvement or alternative solutions, they may issue licenses to shoot.

With global warming melting arctic ice the polar bears are forced to spend more time on the land where they compete for food, according to a report by the polar bear specialist group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Sources, Daily Mail, New York Post, ABC news