Polar bear returns to oilfield from Dolgy Island

Polar bear returns to oilfield from Dolgy Island

1 December 2014

A young female polar bear, which was removed to Dolgy Island a few days ago for its own protection, has returned to Toboisky oilfield.


Environmental authorities together with oil workers took the polar bear to the local nature reserve after it repeatedly appeared at the oilfield. However, the animal travelled the 40 kilometres of ice and open water back to the oilfield and shows no sign of leaving.


Currently, the situation is under control, and environmentalists together with local authorities are working to address the problem. They are discussing the possibility of taking the bear to Vaigach Island or Novaya Zemlya archipelago. The Nenets Autonomous Area Department of Environment and Natural Resources plans to bring in a polar bear expert from the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences.


The bear has not shown any signs of aggression, and workers are advised not to feed or provoke it.


The number of encounters between people and polar bears increased in the area in November. WWF Russia even provided the local authorities with special guides on how to behave during an encounter


“We think the bear has come back because workers fed it,” said Viktor Nikiforov, head of the Bear Patrol project. “According to eyewitnesses, workers from the oilfield’s canteen lowered a bucket of chicken and pasta down to the bear. Of course, they are only doing it out of compassion, but it’s a pity that people don’t know the basic rules of interacting with wild animals. The bear came back not because it wanted to walk the 30 odd kilometres, but because it was hungry.” According to Nikiforov, after the helicopter ride and the journey back from the island, the bear needs to recover. To chase the animal off, experts recommend using snowmobiles and laying out food 20-30 kilometres from the oilfield. If a seal carcass can’t be found on the beaches, deer remains can be used instead.


(photo © Viktor Nikiforov)