February 3, 2006

Climate Change Makes Russian Bears Aggressive: WWF

MOSCOW -- Russians have had to shoot three unusually aggressive polar bears so far this year, in what environmental group WWF said was a sign the bears' feeding patterns were being disrupted by global warming.

The group said bears used to come ashore in winter along the sea ice to forage for food, but that the ice had retreated unusually far from the coast leaving predators with a long swim.

"This makes them particularly vulnerable since animals in search of food lose their sense of danger, they enter villages and often attack people," the WWF said in a statement.

In an unusual attack, a polar bear had killed a 15-year-old girl in the remote Arctic peninsula of Chukotka, which faces Alaska across the Bering straits, the group said.

It also said the retreating sea ice had hit the walrus population. Hunters had reported to the group that walruses were arriving on the shore in a very weak state.