About a dozen polar bears have trapped a team of Russian meteorologists inside a weather station on a remote Arctic island.
Russia’s state-run TASS news agency said the weather station was on Troynoy Island, in the Kara Sea. Ten adult bears and some cubs are living on the island with the researchers, and one female bear has been sleeping under the building’s windows.
“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,” Vassiliy Shevchenko, head of the Sevgidromet State Monitoring Network, told TASS.
The bears have already killed one of the dogs kept at the weather station, TASS reported, and the scientists have run out of the flares they use to scare the gigantic creatures.
For now, the scientists have had to give up on any projects that involve going outside.
“The bears live in the Arctic, you know ― we can’t ban them from hanging around,” Shevchenko told NBC News. “Worst case, the station chief has a gun.”
A ship with supplies ― including more flares and dogs ― is on its way, but won’t reach the scientists for about a month.
“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,” Shevchenko told TASS.
Last year, hungry and aggressive bears trapped scientists at a weather station on Vaygach Island, also in Russia.
Polar bears are listed as ‘vulnerable’ by the IUCN Red List; loss of sea ice due to climate change is the most serious threat facing the animals.