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Russian Archipelago Ends State Of Emergency After Polar Bear Invasion

Russian officials have declared the end of a state of emergency in parts of the Novaya Zemlya archipelago after what had been described as a "mass invasion" of polar bears in the islands' human settlements.

Authorities declared the emergency on February 9 after incidents had been reported in Novaya Zemlya towns of bears attacking people and entering residential and government buildings.

"The massive infiltration of polar bears into the populated areas has ceased," the administration for the Novaya Zemlya archipelago said in a February 18 statement.

Environmentalists said the influx of bears had been caused by the seasonal migration of animals and the availability of edible wastes in the island settlements.

The Novaya Zemlya chain is located in the Arctic Ocean in the northern Russian Arkhangelsk region.

Authorities reported that the bears began gathering near human settlements in December.

Arctic sea ice has been diminishing -- a result blamed on climate change -- forcing polar bears to change their hunting habits and spend more time on land looking for food.

Officials said extra fences were installed near schools to ensure the safety of children, and military and other security personnel had been carrying out patrols.

The bears have been declared an endangered species, and hunting of the animals has been banned by the federal environmental agency.

Based on reporting by dpa, Interfax, and TASS

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