Russians capture hungry polar bear roaming Arctic city

Moscow (AFP) –


Russian officials said Thursday that scientists have captured a hungry polar bear found roaming the streets of an Arctic city, hundreds of kilometres from its natural habitat, and would take it to a zoo to recover.

"Zoologists have caught the female polar bear wandering around Norilsk," the authorities of the industrial city said in a statement, adding that the bear had apparently trekked south from the shores of the Kara Sea, which is part of the Arctic.

Polar bears have been increasingly wandering into inhabited areas of northern Russia as climate change and regional development reduce their habitat and food supply and they turn to other sources such as waste bins.

The animal -- estimated to be around one year old and weighing some 200 kilogrammes (440 pounds) -- is being inspected by veterinarians.

Officials plan to send the bear to a zoo in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk on Friday.

"The animal's health does not allow for her to be released into the wild," the statement said.

"In Krasnoyarsk, the bear will be fully examined and receive the necessary treatment."

Images of the visibly exhausted animal roaming Norilsk in search of food have gone viral.

Sightings of polar bears so far south from their usual habitat are rare.

In February, officials declared an emergency after dozens of polar bears entered a settlement on the far northern Novaya Zemlya archipelago, attracted by its rubbish tip, and some wandered into buildings.