Up to 52 polar bears in Russia's Arctic Novaya Zemlya territory have sparked an 'emergency situation' amid reports of attacks on people.
An "invasion" of polar bears has prompted officials to declare a state of emergency in Russia's Arctic Novaya Zemlya archipelago, according to media reports.
The bears have been gathering near human settlements in the archipelago in the Arkhangelsk region since December, news agency TASS reported, with at least 52 spotted near the settlement of Belushya Guba.
Between six and 10 bears were permanently on the settlement's territory and there had been cases of bears attacking people and entering residential buildings and offices, TASS said.
"The emergency situation was caused by the mass invasion of polar bears in residential areas," the Archangelsk governor and regional government said in a statement.
"Residents, schools and kindergartens are submitting numerous oral and written complaints demanding to ensure safety in the settlement.
"The people are scared. They are frightened to leave homes and their daily routines are broken."
Melting Arctic ice
Extra fences had been installed near kindergartens and special vehicles were being used to take military personnel and employees to work, according to TASS.
But it said the bears had not been put off by signals used to scare them away, or by patrol cars and dogs.
Russia's environmental watchdog has also refused to issue licences to shoot the bears, which are an endangered species.
Melting Arctic ice has increasingly caused them to migrate further south in search of food on land.
"I have been in Novaya Zemlya since 1983, but there has never been so many polar bears in the vicinity," local leader Zhigansha Musin said.