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Starving polar bears terrorise Siberian locals
MOSCOW (AFP) Oct 18, 2005
A group of starving polar bears is terrorising local reindeer hunters and herders in a remote area of eastern Siberia, an official from the Russian emergency services ministry said Tuesday.

"Twenty-six bears left their ice field last week and are roaming about, apparently looking for food, in remote areas of the Nizhnekolymsky region," a regional ministerial spokesman Alexei Khlybov told AFP by phone.

"They often walk around yurts (tents) and houses belonging to reindeer hunters and farmers," he added.

Experts say this kind of group displacement from an ice field is extremely unusual.

On Monday, a group of ministerial specialists visited the area to teach local Yakut people how to defend themselves against the polar bears which are an endangered species, the spokesman said.

The specialists will try to find out why the bears have left the ice field and decide whether an evacuation of the local population is necessary.

The Arctic polar bear population of between 22,000 and 27,000 is under threat, finding it increasingly difficult to locate food as the ice sheets melt due to rising temperatures.

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