In This City, a Visitor Not Seen for More Than 40 Years

Tired, hungry-looking polar bear turned up in Norilsk, Russia
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 19, 2019 12:29 PM CDT
Weak-Looking Polar Bear Seen Hundreds of Miles From Home
This image released Monday shows a polar bear crossing a road in Norilsk, Russia.   (Oleg Krashevsky@putoranatour via AP)

For more than 40 years, there's been no sign of polar bears in Siberia's Norilsk. That changed this week, with Russia's northernmost city putting out a warning notice Tuesday to residents that one had been spotted wandering around in the suburbs, way south of its natural habitat, the AP reports. The BBC notes the female bear didn't look well, seeming tired and famished as it was spotted near a factory; Reuters adds the bear appeared "visibly weak and seemingly ill" and spent a good deal of time lying on the ground. A local wildlife expert tells CNN that polar bears usually hang out along the coast, about 300 miles away, with others estimating the bear may have traveled as far as 900 miles, per the Siberian Times.

It's not the first time polar bears have made a surprising appearance in Russia: Earlier this year, a throng of them converged upon the Novaya Zemlya archipelago. The sightings have been tied to climate change: Global warming may be messing up the bears' food supply, forcing them to the south to scavenge. In this case, though, officials say the bear may have simply been lost. Local wildlife experts are set to come to Norilsk on Wednesday to assess how the bear is doing and decide whether it can be captured and airlifted northward. A short video of its suburban strolling comes courtesy of the Siberian Times, which also has plenty of pics. (More polar bears stories.)

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