An exhausted, starving polar bear has been spotted wandering around the Siberian city of Norilsk, Reuters reported Tuesday. It is the first time a polar bear has entered the city in more than 40 years.
The bear was first seen Sunday evening in an industrial part of the city’s northeast, environmental services official Alexander Korobkin told AFP.
“He is still moving around a factory, under observation by police and the emergency services, who are ensuring his safety and those of residents,” Korobkin told AFP Tuesday.
Both BBC News and Reuters identified the bear as female.
The bear had wandered hundreds of miles from its Arctic habitat to reach Norilsk, an industrial city known for nickel production. More polar bears have gone on land to search for food as the climate crisis has been shrinking the sea ice they depend upon. Parts of the Russian Arctic are melting twice as fast as they were 10 years ago, a 2018 study found. This has led to more interactions between bears and humans.
In February, Russia’s Novaya Zemlya islands declared a state of emergency after polar bears entered the settlement of Belushya Guba to scavenge for food. Around 52 bears were counted near the settlement starting in December, and they were not afraid to enter human homes or buildings.
What man is doing to the planet: polar bears on a rubbish dump in Novaya Zemlya, Siberia. How dispiriting. pic.twitter.com/NwBHDmg82l
— PeterMurtagh (@PeterMurtagh) February 10, 2019
In 2016, polar bears besieged five scientists at a Troynoy Island weather station in the Arctic, interfering with their work and killing one of their dogs, BBC News reported.
Local wildlife expert Oleg Krashevsky told Reuters he wasn’t sure why this particular polar bear had entered Norilsk, but said it was possible she had gotten lost, because she showed signs of poor vision.
The bear lay on the ground for hours at a time Tuesday, standing only sporadically to sniff for food. Her feet were covered in mud.
State wildlife experts will arrive in the city Wednesday to examine the bear, but Krashevsky said he wasn’t sure what could be done for her, since she appeared too weak to return home.
— WildlifeDefence (@WldlifeDefence) March 10, 2019