After two weeks of being held hostage on island by ten adult polar bears and some cubs, five Russian scientists are finally free. According to the Guardian, a passing ship delivered flares and dogs with which to ward off the polar bears. (This story is kind of a downer, so here’s polar bears doing something cute, if you'd rather see that.)
The polar bears stayed on Troynoy Island, the location of the weather station where scientists were trapped, because they were unable to swim to other islands due to climate change and the fast melting of ice on the island.
Yelena Novikova, a spokeswoman for the company overseeing the station, said that the large number of bears was not standard. Polar bears have been known to roam the island in the past, just in smaller numbers. Their aggression was also due to lack of food on the island, another direct result of climate change. (This comes after Canadian scientists found polar bears have been losing weight due to the effects of global warming.)
The bears will be able to leave in October or November after the ice begins to refreeze on the island, said Novikova. The scientists have been conducting meteorological work which required having go outside to observation areas. That work had to be abandoned, but has since been resumed.
Rosgidromet, the federal weather-watching service of Russia, was asked to oversee the situation, and to ensure the protection of both the scientists and the animals, as polar bears have become an endangered species.
Some people were able to find some humor in the situation:
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