Though polar bears are not uncommon in the area, such a large gathering so close to the village of about 600 people is unusual. Experts note that hungry bears are attracted by the smell of food waste and garbage.
"Gatherings of polar bears are becoming more frequent, and we have to adapt and find ways to avoid conflicts between people and animals," said Mikhail Stishov, Arctic biodiversity projects coordinator for WWF-Russia.
Anatoly Kochnev, a scientist at the Institute of Biological Problems of the North, told Russia's Tass news agency that the residents in Ryrkaypiy were very concerned about the increasing number of visits by polar bears. He went so far as to suggest that the local population could be temporarily relocated to a nearby village. Regional authorities, however, have insisted the situation is under control and said no evacuation was necessary, for now.
Russia's weather service was quoted by state media as saying freezing temperatures were expected to hit the Ryrkaipiya region during the weekend. As the coastal ice gets thicker, the polar bears are expected to head off the coast, where they would normally be this time of year to hunt for seals and large sea slugs called sea hares.
In February, a state of emergency was declared in the Novaya Zemlya archipelago region in the Arctic after dozens of polar bears were seen walking around local settlements. Footage showed the animals exploring hallways of residential buildings and neighboring populated areas.