Polar Bears
Ryrkaypy villagers warned not go out in the dark to avoid bears looking for food.

Residents of a town in Russia's Far East were living in fear after a group of killer polar bears invaded.

Over 40 starving bears reportedly gathered a short distance from the village of Ryrkaypy in Chukotka and posed a serious threat to the locals.

According to WWF Russia, the local authorities have put the town on high alert, after three people were mauled to death by bears in Kamchatka a few hundred miles to the south.

Local residents have also are been warned not go do out at night as hungry predators close in looking for food ahead of their winter hibernation.

"The last time a large number of polar bears gathered in one place was on the Arctic coast of Chukotka in the fall of 2006," the head of the WWF's Polar Bear Patrol, Viktor Nikiforov, said.

"The south wind has torn the ice off the coast, opening it to the sea. Some of the bears left the ice, but many of them are still there. Our patrol is on guard near the school area in the mornings, twice a day making a tour around the surrounding villages, controlling the situation," he added.

Polar bears have been spotted near the remains of two dead whales, washed on to the beaches a few kilometres away from the Chukotka settlement.

Attacks on the population by some of Russia's 140,000 bears have been concentrated in the country's Far East as overfishing and retreating ice force the animals to go further to seek other sources of food.

Shooting polar bears - protected under the Red List and known for their enormous physical power - is prohibited except in emergencies.