Experts discuss human-polar bear conflict management

Experts discuss human-polar bear conflict management

12 December 2014

The first Arctic Biodiversity Congress took place in Trondheim, Norway, on 2-4 December 2014, gathering over 500 experts representing the academic community, government authorities, businesses and NGOs.


Sponsored by the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) working group of the Arctic Council, the congress addressed a wide range of issues pertaining to Arctic wildlife conservation. Special attention was given to one of the most charismatic animals in that part of the planet – the polar bear. The event included several roundtables to discuss the hunting of polar bears in northern Canadian provinces and human-polar bear conflict management.


“The roundtable on human-polar bear conflict management was organised by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF),” said Andrei Boltunov, who is a member of IUCN/SSC Polar Bear Specialist Group and deputy chairman of Russia’s Marine Mammal Council (MMC). “Over the last few years, more and more people have come to the Arctic as the region continues to industrialise, leading to more frequent encounters between polar bears and humans. In most cases people are completely unprepared to deal with an encounter and are ignorant of safety rules. This ignorance often leads to conflicts which result in deaths of humans as well as bears. According to polar bear biologist Eric Regehr with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Russia ranks second after Canada by the frequency of human-polar bear problems.”


Representatives of Canada’s indigenous population noted during the roundtable discussions that the rapid growth of tourism and research projects in the Arctic also explains the rising number of conflicts.


(Photo© Ruslan Sleptsov)