An emaciated polar bear was spotted in a Russian industrial city this week, just the latest account of polar bears wandering far from their hunting grounds to look for food.
Officials in the Russian city of Norilsk warned residents about the bear Tuesday. They added that it was the first spotted in the area in over 40 years.
Anatoly Nikolaichuk, who heads the city’s hunting department, said that officials haven’t decided whether the bear can be airlifted back to its original habitat. The bear traveled hundreds of miles before arriving in Norilsk, Agence France-Presse reported.
The bear, according to Reuters, looked too weak to be taken back by traditional means. State wildlife officials are expected to arrive on Wednesday to inspect the bear’s well-being.
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This isn’t the first time this year that a Russian city has dealt with an unexpected polar-bear issue. In April, residents of a village in Russia’s eastern Kamchatka Peninsula spotted a polar bear that had traveled over 400 miles from its usual habitat to look for food. Rescuers tranquilized the bear and airlifted it home.
In February, 50 polar bears caused an “emergency situation” in the small Russian settlement of Belushya Guba, attacking people and entering homes and businesses.
Polar bears are one of the Arctic creatures most susceptible to global warming. The phenomenon is causing their hunting grounds to shrink due to loss of sea ice, according to experts and studies. This forces bears to travel south — leading to more human exposure.
Contributing: Doyle Rice, USA TODAY; The Associated Press