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Norway besieged by bear army

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Not content with having brutally murdered a defenceless monkey, Europe's bears continue their relentless march toward supremacy.

The fall of the iron curtain has been a boon for Russia's own bear insurgency*, allowing them to expand into defenceless Norway. The advancing brown bears on the formerly fortified border are reaping the benefits of not being shot at random by bored communists, Reuters reports.

In the days of Uncle Joe Stalin, Soviet border guards used errant bears as target practice, halting their assault of Norway. American bear researcher Martin Smith, who works on the Norway-Russia border said: “I get the impression it was pretty much a free-for-all for guards to shoot bears.”

The area's former no-go status means conservationists are making it easy for the invaders, pushing for its relatively pristine wilderness to be protected. Genetic analysis of droppings has shown that the bear army are building their numbers.

And they seem unstoppable. Smith said: “I once saw a 300lb bear that got through a 12 inch by 12 inch [hole].”

The bears are backed up in the sea by red king crab collaborators, marauding across the Barents Sea having been introduced from the Pacific by the Soviets in the 30s. It's feared the crabs, which environmentalists say are decimating local ecosystems, may spread as far south as the Mediterranean.

Norwegian politicians would do well to take a lead from their Australian counterparts, who, faced with an invasion of cane toads suggested that people should hit them with golf clubs, cricket bats or lumps of wood. Though they might need something more like a blunderbus**. ®

*Following the weekend's monkey bloodbath in the Netherlands, an "insurgency" is now the correct term.

**We do not advocate the shooting of endangered species.

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