Russia has vowed not to shoot dozens of polar bears terrorising an Arctic town amid fears a plan to relocate the predators will end in disaster.
Officials are preparing an urgent operation to sedate and remove the 52 bears after they invaded Belushya Guba on Russia’s Novaya Zemlya archipelago and started ‘chasing’ frightened locals.
The beasts will be transported a long distance away from the town – but critics of the scheme warn they could rapidly come back.
Extraordinary pictures and video show how people are living in fear in the settlement with polar bears stalking apartment blocks and scavenging at dumps.
The head of the local settlement said that Russia’s nature conservancy agency Rosprirodnadzor – which bans slaughtering the endangered wild animals – is sending a team to the remote islands to sedate and move the animals.
‘We have introduced a state of emergency in the settlements for an unlimited time,’ said Zhigansha Musin.
‘We asked Rosprirodnadzor to provide us with people. They will catch the bears.
‘The predators will be put to sleep and taken out of the settlement. We will not shoot them. We already have a group of four people.’