Polar bears near a Chukotka village are an alarming sign for the population

Polar bears near a Chukotka village are an alarming sign for the population

3 November 2017

For almost a month, the residents of the village of Ryrkaipiy in Chukotka have had to live next to polar bears.


Around 20 polar bears are not leaving Cape Kozhevnikov, which is situated several hundred metres from the village, because there still are many dead seals on the coast, which means enough food for the bears.


The residents have organised patrol shifts on the edge of the village to prevent conflicts. When predators came closer to the buildings, those on duty warned the village by shooting a Huntsman’s Signal flare, whose bright light scared away the bears. Several days later, it was enough to shine light at the animals with a torch, and they would run away to the coast.


The patrols, supported by the village’s administration, also cleared the coast of seal carcasses in order not to attract the bears’ attention to the buildings. The situation is under control so far: both the polar bears and the people are all right.


Congregations of polar bears are an alarming sign for a population, noted Viktor Nikiforov, a polar bear expert. Bears are attracted to the large number of dead seals, whose death is also connected with global climate change.


Polar bears spend more time on the shore and encounter humans more often, due to the lack of ice. This is convenient for poachers, the expert noted.


“We must help the animals and step up security measures. Poaching of a species protected by the Russian Red Data Book has not stopped. Six cases were discovered on Chukotka and one on Yamal just in the first half of this year. Officers of the Federal Security Service in Khabarovsk also confiscated a bear skin. We would like to celebrate the Year of the Environment with real work to conserve an endangered species,” Nikiforov concluded.


(Photo © Tatyana Minenko)