A group of polar bears in Russia is celebrating the holidays in a truly spectacular way, much to the dismay of local residents. Locals in Ryrkaypiy, a small village of less than a thousand residents, have seen their quaint little town invaded by dozens of seemingly malnourished polar bears.
Reports from Russia’s news group RIA Novosti, via CNN, reveal that the bears are apparently interested in discarded carcasses of walruses that have piled up over the latter half of the year. Members of the World Wildlife Fund issued a statement noting that the bears appear thin, and that food is definitely the primary motivation for their impromptu invasion.
The World Wildlife Fund says that the climate is affecting the behavior of the bears, with warmer temperatures causing ice to melt and preventing the bears from hunting in the ways they normally would.
“If the ice was strong enough, the bears, or at least some of them, would have already gone to sea, where they could hunt for seals or sea hares,” WWF’s Mikhail Stishov explained. “Similar situations are becoming the norm. We need to adapt to this so that neither people nor bears suffer.”
The current situation with the bears near the village isn’t a reason for panic, but it could be a warning sign for the future. The bears feasting on leftover walrus meat on the shore and wandering near the village is one thing, but as the years progress and the climate continues to shift. In a year where the walrus population shrinks or the animals relocate entirely, the village will have a lot of hungry bears looking for a quick meal.
“We try to control the situation, but nobody would want to think what may happen there in three to five years,” Anatoly Kochnev, a researcher with the Institute of Biological Problems of the North in Russia, told reporters. “If walruses abandon the cape or if their population reduces, polar bears would not stop to be there… but they will be hungry.”