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Russian scientists besieged by polar bears to get dogs and flares for protection

About a dozen polar bears have besieged a weather station located on the remote Troynoy island in the southern part of the Kara Sea

ARKHANGELSK, September 13. /TASS/. Russian scientists who are currently besieged by polar bears at a weather station on the Troynoy island in the Kara Sea will be sent dogs for protection and also flares, Vassiliy Shevchenko, the head of the Sevgidromet State Monitoring Network that owns the station, told TASS.

"We have issued a recommendation for the station’s personnel to use extreme caution, not to leave the station without a serious need and continue only with possible meteorological observations", Shevchenko said. "Instructions were given to the Mikhail Somov expedition vessel, that will reach the station in about a month, to deliver dogs, as one of the station’s canines was killed by a bear, and also flares and other pyrotechnical devices needed to scare the animals away."

As Shevchenko said, the possibility of an earlier delivery of the pyrotechnical devices was under consideration. "The decision will be made by the end of the day", he added. According to him, "things like this have happened before on the Troynoy island because bears inhabit the area and people work there". "At the end of October, or in the beginning of November the near-shore waters will freeze and the bears will leave the island in search for food", he explained.

As the station’s head Vadim Plotnikov said before, four to six polar bears remained at the island during summer but now there are about ten adult bears and some cubs. A female bear has been spending nights under the station’s windows so it is dangerous to go out because the personnel has run out of flares to scare bears away. As a result, the scientists had to abandon some meteorological observations that require going out to the observation sites.

On Monday, the Russian Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Sergey Donskoy instructed the federal weather-watching service, Rosgidromet, to ensure the security of the Troynoy island weather station’s personnel given the danger of possible encounters with bears. The Minister also requested that all necessary measures to be taken to protect the animals and asked the head of Rosgidromet Alezander Frolov to take personal control of the situation. Five people, two married couples among them, currently work at the weather station.

Polar bears are registered in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and the Red Book of Russia as an endangered species. Polar bear hunting has been banned in the country since 1957.