Bear Patrol monitors illegal trade in polar bear skins

Bear Patrol monitors illegal trade in polar bear skins

15 January 2015

In early December 2014, experts from WWF Russia’s Bear Patrol scoured the internet for evidence of illegal trade in polar bear skins in the ninth such campaign since 2003. Data has been collected for the past 22 months.


Bear Patrol members found 38 postings offering polar bear skins and seven websites informing potential buyers that several polar bear skins, ranging from three to eight, were available for purchase.


The results show that prices have reached their highest level (up to 2.9 million roubles per skin) since monitoring began a decade ago. The average price for a polar bear skin is now $22,280, up $200 since the last survey.


Higher prices may be due to an increase in legally exported skins from Canada. However, skins procured in Russia are also going for more money these days. It could be the case that Russian skins are being passed off as Canadian.


“Despite stiffer penalties for illegal trade in polar bear skins, they are still being sold on the internet,” said Viktor Nikiforov, head of the WWF Russia’s Bear Patrol. “Online sales in Russia are geographically concentrated in Moscow and St Petersburg. A considerable number of the listings (more than 25 percent) are found in the Ukrainian segment of the market (three in Kiev, and another three in Dnepropetrovsk and Donetsk).”


(Photo © Viktor Nikiforov)

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