Polar bear skin sellers found guilty

Polar bear skin sellers found guilty

10 February 2016

A magistrate court of the Nenets Autonomous Area today convicted three locals of storing and trading a polar bear skin. The polar bear is an endangered species listed in Russia’s Red Data Book.


Charges were brought against two Naryan-Mar residents and a resident of the village of Karataika. Police put a stop to their illegal activity in February 2015. The court announced a sentence under a Criminal Code article on illegal production and trafficking of the most valuable wildlife and aquatic biological resources belonging to species listed in Russia’s Red Book. The article provides for a maximum penalty of up to three years in prison with a fine of up to one million roubles. However, the defendants were immediately released under an amnesty devoted to the 70th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War.


According to Viktor Nikiforov, head of WWF Russia’s Polar Bear Patrol, the police confiscated the polar bear skin in Naryan-Mar. After that, an investigation was carried out in several villages in the region.


“It was Russia’s first lawsuit related to the storage, transport and trade of a polar bear skin, as opposed to poaching,” Nikiforov said. “The court decision gives mixed feelings: on the one hand, the poachers’ accomplices got off with a slap on the wrist, yet on the other hand, the court found all three suspects guilty, and this is a continuation of the great work we are doing in the Nenets Autonomous Area together with its administration and the local directorate of the Interior Ministry to eradicate polar bear poaching.”


For the first time since 2007, a case of polar bear killing was brought to court in the Nenets Autonomous Area in March 2015. However, nobody has been handed a prison term for crimes related to polar bears so far in Russia.

(Photo © Viktor Nikiforov/ WWF)

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