The polar bear invasion of Belushya Guba in 2019 was both a sad indicator of both climate catastrophe and human carelessness, as well as the plot outline for a possibly awesome horror film.
Novaya Zemlya is an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean in northern Russia and was used as a nuclear bomb test site in the 1950s after the indigenous Siberian people, the Nenets, were forcibly ousted by the Soviets. In modern times the islands are sparsely populated, and the town of Belushya Guba has a population of less than two thousand.
In late summer, the polar bear population usually head for Novaya Zemlya’s northern bays, where they wait until the ice is thick enough to traverse and allow them to hunt seals. As the sea ice begins to form later and later in the year, however, the bears have been increasingly forced to find other sources of food.
Over fifty bears were chasing people and even entering the residential buildings, according to Zhigansha Musin, the head of the settlement’s administration. They were even filmed feasting upon rubbish in the local dump.
An endangered species, shooting polar bears is illegal in Russia, so a team of specialists were dispatched to sedate and remove them. They are creatures of habit, however, so electrified fences were installed in the hopes of deterring them in the seasons to come.
As Arctic glaciers continue to melt – summer ice is predicted to disappear entirely early as 2035 – this scary event is doomed to be repeated as local fauna are forced to retreat further and further south. Other indications of a warming climate included the sighting of butterflies on the archipelago for the first time in 2020.