Polar bears besiege Izvestiy TSIK Islands weather station

Polar bears besiege Izvestiy TSIK Islands weather station

14 September 2016

The polar bears that halted the work of the Izvestiy TSIK Islands weather station on Troynoy Island in the Kara Sea have been chased away by a helicopter.


On 10 September, a female bear with a young cub appeared near the station and killed one of the polar explorers’ two dogs. The bears also broke warehouse windows.

It was dangerous to go outside as the station had run out of deterrents to scare the predators off. The station’s staff had to stop their hydrometeorological research that required going to the observation site and other points.


The ship that provides supplies to Arctic weather stations was not due to reach Troynoy Island for a month. In the meantime, the Akademik Tryoshnikov, a research vessel of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, came to the polar explorers’ rescue. The ship had been carrying out work on the Kara Summer 2016 project and was just 10 hours away from the polar station. A group of polar bear specialists from the Marine Mammal Council, including Andrei Boltunov, Viktor Nikiforov and Varvara Semyonova, were working aboard the ship.


On 14 September, the Akademik Tryoshnikov made its way to Troynoy Island. Experts on board a Ka-32 helicopter landed near the station, where they met with the meteorologists and decided to chase away the intrusive animals. Several polar bears were visible at the time of their arrival. A total of nine adult bears live on the island.


“The situation on Troynoy Island is quite common for the Arctic polar stations,” said Viktor Nikiforov, coordinator of the Marine Mammals Council’s programme to reduce human-polar bear conflicts. “The people who work in the polar bear’s habitat should be ready to encounter this large predator at any time. If we want to save the lives of people and these rare animals, which are listed in Red Data Book, the staff of the polar stations should be provided with deterrents and should be aware of the basics of bear behaviour. It is also important to take into account and implement the experience of preventing human-polar bear conflicts from Arctic countries.”


The station’s personnel have been recommended to use extreme care and only carry out safely accessible meteorological research. Also, the crew of the Akademik Tryoshnikov provided meteorologists with personal protection devices (false fires and rocket flares) and two puppies. The polar bears are expected to leave Troynoy Island in search of food in late October or early November, when ice has formed around the island.


(Photo © Viktor Nikiforov/Vadim Plotnikov)