New polar bear protection project in Chukotka

New polar bear protection project in Chukotka

19 July 2023

A project to prevent conflicts between humans and polar bears in Chukotka is being launched by the Marine Mammal Research and Expedition Centre and the Compass Foundation to Support the Development of Environmental Initiatives. The first stage of this large research work is expected to take two years, according to the foundation’s website.


Over the past 20 years, these endangered predators have had to interact with humans more often due to global warming and shrinking sea ice (the main habitat of polar bears). The unfrozen Chukchi Sea leaves bears with no opportunity to hunt, and they enter coastal villages, searching for food and paralysing the normal life of the locals. Conflicts are inevitable in such situations, so the project’s main goal will be to protect both sides: people and animals.


“The plan is for the first expedition to leave for Chukotka in October 2023. There will be four in total. The experts from the foundation and the centre will work in the area of Cape Vankarem. They will study the behaviour, biology and ecology of polar bears in areas of regular contact with humans, collect biological samples, attach tracking tags to the bears for monitoring the local movements of certain individuals, and compile their genetic passports,” said Andrei Boltunov, director of the centre.


The project will rely on the involvement of local residents in research and environmental activities.


Following the research, scientists should give clear proposals on how to preserve polar bears in Chukotka in areas where they have regular contact with humans and at the same time prevent them from wandering into coastal communities.


The Compass Foundation and the centre have signed a cooperation agreement, under which work to develop a research plan and form the expedition crew has begun.