Ship delivered dogs and flares to staff at Arctic weather station after they were encircled by 10 adult bears for two weeks

Alec Luhn in Moscow and Elle Hunt

Russian scientists have driven away polar bears that besieged their weather station on an island in the Arctic Ocean for two weeks.

A nearby ship was able to reach the island and supply the scientists with dogs and flares to scare off the bears, said the Sevgidromet state monitoring network that owns the station.

Five scientists based at the weather station on Troynoy island, in the Kara Sea north of Siberia, were encircled by 10 adult bears and some cubs, the Russian news agency TASS reported on Monday.

A female bear had taken to spending nights beneath the station’s windows, and one of two resident dogs was killed on 31 August.

The five personnel – two married couples among them – ran out of flares with which to deter the predators. Troynoy, the largest island in the Izvestiy Tsik archipelago, is 27km long.

The next supply ship that could bring dogs and flares to the island was due in “about a month”, Sevgidromet head Vassiliy Shevchenko told TASS on Tuesday.

But the flagship of Russia’s research expedition fleet, the Akademik Tryoshnikov, happened to be passing nearby and was able to stop at the island, Sevgidromet said. Besides flares, employees at the network’s Arctic weather stations carry electronic sirens and sometimes firearms to ward off bears. They are instructed to leave the station in pairs for safety.

Before the ship arrived, personnel had been advised to “use extreme caution” and to remain inside the station in all but the most serious circumstances. Meteorological work that required going outside to observation sites had been abandoned, but now has resumed.

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