Polar Bear Invasion in Arctic Russian Village Prompts State of Emergency

iStock.com/HuntedDuck
iStock.com/HuntedDuck

Residents of Novaya Zemlya, a remote arctic region in Russia, are locking themselves indoors as displaced polar bears from up north move into populated areas. The polar bear invasion has become so serious that local authorities are declaring a state of emergency until the problem is fixed, ABC News reports.

In and around Belushya Guba, the main settlement on the 3000-population archipelago, at least 52 polar bears have been reported this winter. While most remain on the outskirts of town, six to 10 are in the village at any given time, scrounging through garbage, walking into buildings, and even acting aggressively toward people who cross their path.

People in Novaya Zemlya have used sirens, car horns, and dogs to scare away the occasional polar bear in the past, but these bears have become desensitized to the tactics. Town officials have resorted to building protective barriers around schools and providing transportation for students and workers going to and from their homes. Other residents refuse to let their children go outside. Polar bears are an endangered species in Russia, so killing them is illegal, but authorities may be forced to do so if there's no other way to eradicate them from the village.

The reason the bears have invaded Novaya Zemlya makes them especially dangerous. Polar bears normally use arctic sea ice as a platform for stalking and hunting seals during the winter. This sea ice has diminished due to climate change, leaving many polar bears with two options: Move south in search of food, or starve. Wildlife experts warn that hungry, desperate polar bears will continue to be a problem for people living in arctic regions if current climate trends continue.

[h/t ABC News]

For the First Time Ever, a Mammal Has Been Declared Extinct Due to Climate Change

The Whitsunday Islands in Australia's Great Barrier Reef
The Whitsunday Islands in Australia's Great Barrier Reef
iStock.com/4FR

An Australian rat-like rodent called the Bramble Cay melomys is the first known mammal wiped out by manmade climate change, The Hill reports. The now-extinct animal (Melomys rubicola) lived on the tiny, uninhabited island of Bramble Cay in the Great Barrier Reef. Despite exhaustive efforts to track down the melomys over seven years, no signs of the rodent could be found, and in 2016, Queensland’s state government declared the animal extinct.

These fears were confirmed when news broke this week that the national government had quietly changed the rodent’s classification from endangered to extinct. Meanwhile, the status of a fruit bat called the spectacled flying-fox was changed from vulnerable to endangered after a recent heatwave in north Queensland, which dealt another blow to a population that had already been cut in half over the last decade.

As for the Bramble Cay melomys, its demise can be attributed to rising sea levels, storm surges, and other weather events that have worsened due to climate change. According to The Revelator, the tides destroyed about 97 percent of the island’s vegetation, which was the rodent’s only food source.

Leeanne Enoch, Queensland's Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, told The Sydney Morning Herald that the latest animal extinction is evidence “we are living the real effects of climate change right now.”

In a 2018 study commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund, researchers found that up to half of the 80,000 plant and animal species that reside in 35 of the world’s most diverse areas could become extinct by the turn of the century because of climate change.

For some species, it’s already too late. A Hawaiian bird called the poo-uli (or black-faced honeycreeper) was declared extinct last year, largely due to diseases carried by mosquitoes, which thrive in warmer climates. For other endangered species in the U.S.—like the black-footed ferret, red wolf, and rusty patched bumble bee—there might still be time to step in and protect them.

[h/t The Hill]

A Fort Hood Mule With 12 Years of Army Experience Is Looking for a Forever Home

iStock.com/PamWalker68
iStock.com/PamWalker68

Attention, animal lovers: A mule in Fort Hood, Texas with more than a decade of U.S. Army experience is up for adoption. Tina the Army mule has been a part of the Fort Hood military base's 1st Cavalry Division Horse Detachment for most of her life, and now KWTX reports that she needs a place to spend her retirement.

Foaled in 1999, the Fort Hood 1st Cavalry adopted Tina in 2006. Since then, she has assisted in parades, weapons demonstrations, cavalry charges, and color guards for the division. She has experience pulling an M1878 Escort wagon in a harness as well as standing by calmly for ceremonies.

She worked as a draft mule until 2018, and now that she's retiring, Fort Hood officials are looking to find her a forever home. Tina has no health problems or dietary restrictions and enjoys eating Coastal Bermuda hay and pasture grass. Her sister Dolly, who died of bone cancer in 2018, was the only mule she's ever been paired with. Though Tina can perform light solo work, her new owners should be cautious about pairing her with another mule.

If you're interested in making Tina a part of your family, Fort Hood would like to hear from you. You can contact the current owners by emailing your request along with any questions to 1CDHorseCavalryDetachment@gmail.com by March 7. Once your inquiry is received, you'll be sent an application packet with instructions on how to proceed.

[h/t KWTX]

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