On a remote Arctic island, five researchers at a weather station found themselves “besieged” by polar bears over the weekend, Russia’s TASS news agency reports.
Vadim Plotnikov, the head of the weather station on Troynoy Island, told the news agency on Monday that the staff there had seen 10 adult bears around the station, as well as several cubs.
Two weeks ago, a polar bear ate one of the weather station’s two dogs — and hadn’t left the station since.
The female bear had been sleeping under the station’s windows for days, Plotnikov says.
“It’s dangerous to go out as we have run short of any means to scare off the predators,” Plotnikov told TASS. He explained that the station’s stockpile of flares had run out. Polar bear hunting is illegal in Russia, so shooting the bears wasn’t an option.
“We had to stop some of the meteorological observations,” he said. He appealed for a new shipment of flares to be sent, somehow, to the distant outpost.
The next supply ship wasn’t scheduled to visit the island for another month.
The head of the Sevgidromet State Monitoring Network, which owns the station, toldTASS it would make sure the supply ship is stocked with new dogs as well as flares, but that it wasn’t sure if it would be possible to send any supplies sooner.
Vassiliy Shevchenko, the network head, also noted the bears would probably leave the island to hunt by the end of October or early November, anyway. He issued a recommendation to the weather station staff: Don’t leave the station unless you absolutely must.
But then salvation arrived on Troynoy Island.
A helicopter took off from the Akademik Tryoshnikov and delivered “three puppies and pyrotechnical devices” to the beleaguered weather station staffers, TASS reports.