A visibly weak polar bear wandered into the city of Norilsk, in the Arctic Circle, this week, scavenging for food more than 800 kilometres away from its natural habitat. It was the first time locals had seen a polar bear in 40 years, and was likely a result of the climate crisis.
The animal was filmed walking through an industrial zone with its snout to the ground, looking for food. Local media outlets reported that the bear scavenged in dumpsters and piles of trash, and occasionally lay down on the ground, seemingly exhausted.
“It’s an alarming sign”
I saw it on the outskirts of our city district Talnakh. It was looking for food and eating from trash, and later it fell asleep right there. It looked clean except for dirt on his paws. I felt a grain of sadness when I saw it, because it is not natural for polar bears to leave their habitat to search for food. It's an alarming sign, something is not right with nature or with the place where it comes from.
Alexandre Korobkine, a local environmental official, told the French news agency Agence France-Presse earlier this week that the bear was being monitored by police and emergency services personnel. A team of specialists arrived in Norilsk on Wednesday to inspect the bear and determine the best course of action.
Irina Yarinskaya, a photographer, told the FRANCE 24 Observers that a cage was being prepared for the bear before it would be moved to a safer environment.
The climate crisis has melted many sea ice habitats, where polar bears traditionally live, and forced them to search for food on dry land. The desperate animals occasionally come into contact with humans. In February, several dozen starving polar bears entered homes and other buildings in the Russian archipelago of Novaya Zemlya, home to roughly 100 people, in search of food.
This story was written by Liselotte Mas.