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Lost polar bear holds Russian village under siege

A polar bear is holding a Russian village under siege - some 675 miles inland from its natural habitat on the shore of the Arctic Ocean.

The lone wanderlust bear has been travelling south in Siberia on an odyssey that amazes experts.

But there was alarm early today as the hungry predator arrived in the coal-mining village of Dzhebariki-Khaya stealing dog food, and scaring locals, growling aggressively and threatening to attack.

A polar bear is holding a Russian village under siege - some 675 miles inland from its natural habitat on the shore of the Arctic Ocean

The bear - looking emaciated and confused after travelling so far south that there is no snow - was aggressive and threatened villagers who tried to chase it away from houses

The route of the wandering polar bear. Regional wildlife rangers have been attempting to catch the bear for weeks, but until now it eluded all efforts

'Here it is.... damned amazing...somehow it's scary to go to work,' said one resident as he filmed the animal.

A woman found the bear sleeping next to her house.

'Look, the beast came to our yard and lies down.

'It ate the dog's food and just brazenly lies here.'

Later the bear - looking emaciated and confused after travelling so far south that there is no snow - was aggressive and threatened villagers who tried to chase it away from houses.

Sergey Krepushin, head of the village's administration, told Yakutia Daily: 'It is now on the outskirts of the village.

Regional wildlife rangers have been attempting to catch the bear for weeks, but until now it eluded all efforts

'We drove it 400 ft from a residential building.

'We have been holding it back for about six hours.

'It became aggressive, rushes towards us, and growls.

'We don't know what to do.

'The polar bear is an animal listed in the Red Book, so it cannot be killed.'

Regional wildlife rangers have been attempting to catch the bear for weeks, but until now it eluded all efforts.

'The decision on its further fate will be made by the republican authorities in Yakutia together with the Russian government,' said Krepushin.

'There are no environmental inspectors in the village.

'Now three hunters with guns are on guard duty, including myself.

'We are simply trying not to let the bear into the village.'

The lone wanderlust bear has been travelling south in Siberia on an odyssey that amazes experts 

The beast - looking three or four years old - crossed the Arctic Circle heading south on its remarkable journey into the territory of the brown bear

One video shows locals with dogs trying to hold the bear back.

'Wait - it will rush at us now,' said one man.

'No…it won't' said another.

Later a local woman said she had fed the bear.

'He is not aggressive any more,' she said.

'He is hungry and tired.

'I gathered everything that was in my freezer, fed him.'

The bear remained under close guard.

'Now it looks like he is sleeping. We are waiting for the helicopter.'

The beast - looking three or four years old - crossed the Arctic Circle heading south on its remarkable journey into the territory of the brown bear.

Wildlife rangers have been sent by helicopter from regional capital Yakutsk - the world's coldest city, 300 miles to the west - in an attempt to catch the lost bear.

In late March the racing predator was spotted running in the wrong direction on a road, near Batagai, already 300 miles from the coast

The last sighting of the animal - dubbed Polar Paddington for its love of travel - was when it crept up on fisherman Andrey Rybakov, 41, on the banks of the Khandyga River, almost two weeks ago.

The bear tried to steal his catch as the angler rushed into his Toyota Land Cruiser to take refuge.

In late March the racing predator was spotted running in the wrong direction on a road, near Batagai, already 300 miles from the coast.

It is highly unusual for bears to move even a short distance south from the Arctic coast where they have a plentiful supply of food.

Locals cannot remember seeing a polar bear so far south.

'It's sat-nav is awry,' said one.

In 2019 a polar bear was spotted further south in Russia's Kamchatka region after floating on an ice floe.

But the bear in Dzhebariki-Khaya village has come all this way on foot on a journey probably taking at least three months.

 The lone wandering polar bear tried to steal fishing gear from an angler while desperately searching for food after wandering 600 miles from its natural habitat in Russia.  

Wildlife inspectors in Russia's largest - and coldest - region of Yakutia have so far failed to snare the adventurous predator amid fears for its survival so far from its Arctic home.

The bear crept up on angler Andrey Rybakov, 41, who was fishing on the Khandyga River - and gave him the fright of his life.

 A lone wandering polar bear has tried to steal fishing gear from a local man as it desperately tries to find food after wandering 600 miles across Russia

Wildlife inspectors have so far  failed to snare the adventurous predator amid fears for its survival so far from its natural habitat

The fisherman grabbed his ice pick and a rod and fled to take refuge in his Toyota Land Cruiser.

Meanwhile, the bear with the travel bug - nicknamed Polar Paddington - rummaged through his fishing bag and box.

But there was no catch to steal for the beast that has ventured far outside its species' normal habitat into the territory of the brown bear.

'I was sitting and fishing - and this bear suddenly came from behind,' said a clearly shaken Rybakov.

'I heard nothing. And not just any bear. A polar bear.'

He recorded a video - the best footage so far of the wandering polar bear, and admitted: 'He scared me.'

'I only managed to grab my fishing rod and ice pick - and run,' he said.

'It turned my fishing box upside down.'

Rybakov said: 'It approached my rods. There are no fish! Ugh... I can't go back now. It sits and watches. And attacks me when I try to approach.'

From his vehicle, he shouted at the bear: 'Leave my rods alone.'

With no fish in sight, the bear instead stole his spoon lures as a souvenir, infuriating the fisherman.

'What the hell are you doing?', shouted the Russian.

The bear crept up on angler Andrey Rybakov, 41, who was fishing on the Khandyga River - and gave him the fright of his life

Polar Paddington has traveled 600 miles south from his natural habitat, sparking fears he may be lost in unfamiliar territory

The bear is last seen climbing a snowy wooded embankment with the angler's spook lures clutched in its jaw.

Now officials in Yakutia are renewing efforts to catch the bear amid concerns for the safety of locals - and the bear so far from home.

It is highly unusual for bears to move even a short distance south from the Arctic coast where they have a plentiful supply of food.

But this bear has gone 600 miles as the crow flies, and in reality probably much further on its winding journey during which it has followed remote roads, and gone cross country, all the time evading efforts of wildlife inspectors to track it.

Earlier this month it crossed the Arctic Circle in a southerly direction, and is now close to the notorious Road of Bones, built by prisoners in Stalin times, connecting the world's coldest city Yakutsk with former Gulag port Magadan.

Some experts initially believed that the wild animal might be an albino brown bear, because it is so unusual for polar bears to venture here.

The fact the bear appears in good condition, not starving despite its failure to grab any lunch from Rybakov. 

'It's sat-nav is awry,' said one local.

Ecology Ministry in Yakutia region, Sakhamin Afanasyev, instructed wildlife inspectors to make a new bid to find and catch the wanderer.

Meanwhile, new safety warnings have been issued to residents to be alert for the creature.

Video taken from a truck following behind the bear shows it bounding through the snow on the Yana Road, heading south towards the regional capital Yakutsk in mid-April

A lost polar bear had wandered 500 miles from its natural habitat in the Russian Arctic by mid-April and has continued to travel away from its home

Previous sightings showed the bear in late March some 300 miles adrift from the Arctic, and more recently in mid-April on the lonely Yana road in Tomponsky district about 500 miles from home.

In 2017, a female cub was rescued in Verkhoyansk district, some 450 miles from the Arctic coast, after raiding a fish processing plant on the Kolyma River.

But now this bear has gone further.

If caught, an assessment will be made on whether Polar Paddington can be moved back to the Arctic and reintroduced to the wild.

The last time a polar bear wandered so far inland was in September 2017. A ten month old female cub (pictured) was rescued in Verkhoyansk district, some 450 miles south from the Arctic coast of Siberia [File photo]

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