'February 27th is International Polar Bear Day, and what interesting timing it happens to be this year. In recent weeks the media have been all over the news that the Russian village of Belushaya Guba, on the Novaya Zemlya archipelago in the southern Barents Sea had declared a state of emergency because more than 50 aggressive and fearless polar bears had invaded the community. Protected status for the bears meant deadly force was not an option for terrified residents, yet non-lethal efforts to get the bears to leave had been futile.
Predictably, the blame was immediately put on sea-ice loss due to climate change — not by a scientist but by a Norwegian journalist who initially reported the story, adding in his own homemade, unscientific analysis. Pundits came out of the gate later, to add further layers of hyperbole, even after the original journalist followed up with another story recanting his original theories, headlined “Well-fed polar bears are not necessarily stuck at Novaya Zemlya due to climate change, experts say.”
The primary problem was, in fact, the village’s garbage, with too many bears being a close second. There had been ice enough in late November to allow the bears to leave Novaya Zemlya as they usually do in the fall but they did not. Dozens of fat bears chose to stay for the winter because of easy access to stores of food and an open-air garbage dump.'
Read more: Don’t blame melting ice for polar bear attacks. Blame a bear baby boom
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