Bearbnb: Polar bears make themselves at home in abandoned village

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Dmitry Kokh

Photographer Dmitry Kokh

AN ABANDONED weather station and its surrounding settlement is an unconventional place to find polar bears, but then we are living in unconventional times.

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Dmitry Kokh

Wildlife photographer Dmitry Kokh happened upon the animals when the boat he was on took shelter from a storm at the Russian island of Kolyuchin in September 2021. It was too dangerous to walk on the island, so he took pictures of the station’s unusual residents using a camera drone fitted with low-noise propellers, so as not to disturb the bears too much.

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Dmitry Kokh

According to Kokh, there were about 20 individuals in sight, most of them male. Kolyuchin, off the coast of eastern Russia in the Chukchi Sea, hasn’t been inhabited by people for decades. It is also surrounded by sea ice – polar bears’ primary habitat – for most of the year, giving the bears easy access to the island in time for summer, when sea ice wanes.

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Dmitry Kokh

Whatever environmental conditions or opportunities for hunting led the animals to Kolyuchin, they certainly seemed to be making the most of their home comforts.

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