A ‘mass invasion’ of polar bears is terrorizing an island town. Climate change is to blame.

Read the full story at the Washington Post.

Fences have risen around kindergartens. Special vehicles transport military personnel to their work sites. Residents of the island settlement are afraid to leave their homes.

Novaya Zemlya is a Russian archipelago stretching into the Arctic Ocean. It once played host to Soviet nuclear tests, including the largest man-made explosion, when the “king of bombs” detonated in 1961, releasing 50 megatons of power and deepening an arms race that threatened to turn the Cold War hot.

Today, the barren landscape is under siege — from dozens of polar bears locked in their very own sort of hot war. Marine ecologists have long been warning of the peril posed by global warming for the vulnerable species. In the far reaches of Russia, the situation has become traumatic for humans, too.

Officials in the Arkhangelsk region, where the archipelago lies, declared a state of emergency Saturday because of the marauding mammals. Polar bears are typically born on land but live mostly on sea ice, where they hunt and feed on seals. But as Arctic ice thins, an occurrence linked to the acceleration of climate change, the animals move ashore, ravenous. They scavenge, sometimes coming into contact with human populations.

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