Residents of a village in Russia’s far eastern Kamchatka Peninsula have been stunned by the sight of a polar bear prowling for food hundreds of kilometres from its usual habitat.
Russian media reported on Wednesday that the exhausted-looking animal apparently travelled from Chukotka to the village of Tilichiki on Kamchatka, 700 kilometres south.
The region is on a similar latitude to Scotland. It is not normally home to polar bears, whose typical habitat is in the countries that surround the Arctic Circle.
Environmentalists said the bear could have lost its sense of direction while drifting on an ice floe.
“Due to climate change, the Arctic is getting warmer, hunting environment gets smaller and less convenient,” said Vladimir Chuprov of Greenpeace.
“The ice is receding, and polar bears look for new ways to survive. And the easiest way is coming to people.”
Locals were making the bear feel welcome, giving it fish, media reported.
Videos posted online showed the animal moving past residents, showing no aggression.
But it will not stay in Kamchatka long. Local authorities are preparing for a rescue effort later this week.
They plan to use a sedative to put the bear to sleep and then airlift it to Chukotka, in Russia’s far north-east, in a helicopter.
Polar bears’ dependence on sea ice makes them highly vulnerable to global warming. Shrinking Arctic ice cover could increasingly deprive them of their usual prey, seals.