Bad Mood Bears: Russians Warned to Stay Away From Grumpy Insomniac Bears
Moscow has sent an urgent warning to its population to stay away from brown bears -- they're in a bad mood because they didn't get enough sleep.
The Russians fondly call their brown bears "Mischa" but this year the affection is not reciprocated. The reason: Mischa is grumpy because he's not had enough winter sleep. It's just too hot to hibernate.
The Russian emergency ministry has warned the populace to stay away from bears, German daily Der Tagesspiegel reports. The animals are unusually aggressive this winter -- because they can't sleep.
Normally Russian bears would hibernate from October to March. However unseasonably warm temperatures have woken them up early this year. And, like children deprived of sleep, they're in a bad mood. Officials warn the bears could attack without provocation.
Moscow is currently experiencing a winter heatwave of 8.4 degrees Celsius (47.1 degrees Fahrenheit), far warmer than the usual January temperatures of -20 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit). It is the highest January temperature since weather records began in 1894.
But grumpy animals aren't the only side effect of the balmy weather. Environmentalists fear that the warm winter could bring a wave of natural catastrophes such as forest fires, mudslides and melting glaciers.
In addition, permafrost is thawing, putting streets, bridges and pipelines in danger. Over 20 percent of oil and gas pipeline leakages can already be directly or indirectly attributed to climate change, experts say.
Considering the country's current pipe wars with Belarus over oil and gas supplies, the weather-induced problems may add even more fuel to this winter's hot topic.
Stay informed with our free news services:
© SPIEGEL ONLINE 2007
All Rights Reserved
Reproduction only allowed with the permission of SPIEGELnet GmbH
MORE FROM SPIEGEL INTERNATIONAL
German PoliticsMerkel's Moves: Power Struggles in Berlin
World War IITruth and Reconciliation: Why the War Still Haunts Europe
EnergyGreen Power: The Future of Energy
European UnionUnited Europe: A Continental Project
Climate ChangeGlobal Warming: Curbing Carbon Before It's Too Late