How to preserve the polar bear: Experts share their experience

How to preserve the polar bear: Experts share their experience

26 November 2014

In the second half of November, a polar bear was tracked in several places on the Arctic coast of the Nenets Autonomous Area, including Vaigach Island and near the village of Ust-Kara. Over the course of a few days, the bear detained the work of drillers at the Toboisky oil field. A helicopter was even used to drive the animal away. Finally, the bear was sedated and transferred by helicopter to the uninhabited Dolgy Island (the state nature reserve), with the hope that the animal will not come back to populated areas in the near future.  


“More people will find their way into the habitat of polar bears with the further industrial development of the Arctic,” Head of the WWF Bear Patrol Viktor Nikiforov said. “People should be ready to encounter bears. With the support of the local authorities, we, together with the Marine Mammal Council, have developed a special guide poster, “How can we save the lives of people and polar bears?” which was submitted to the Governor for distribution in Arctic villages and polar weather stations.

The situation at the oil filed showed that oilfield workers are not ready for encounters with bears: they had no weapons or means of scaring bears away, and the site was not fenced in, which lead to clashes between people and the bear. This is common in the Arctic: two days ago, a bear appeared at the Fyodorov polar station in the north of Vaigach Island , and the workers tried to scare the animal away with a signal pistol.


“We can’t always send a helicopter to chase away or immobilize bears. We believe that our cooperation with the area will result in the development and implementation of a special regional programme on polar bear conservation. Fortunately, the local authorities are deeply involved in this problem. During the incident with polar bears, Governor Igor Koshin personally handed rubber bullets to the Chief Police Officer, who tried to scare them way (this equipment was left after a joint helicopter raid of the WWF and local authorities seeking to protect coastal villages from polar bears in August 2014),” Mr Nikiforov said.


Encounters between people and polar bears have recently become a common occurrence. Our country and other countries where these predators live have accumulated rich experience in the safe coexistence of people and polar bears. By involving experts and implementing best practices, this problem can be settled not only in the Nenets Autonomous Area but throughout the Russian North.

(photo © Viktor Nikiforov/Dmitry Ryabov)

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