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Премия рунета 2017

WWF will help meteorologists protect themselves from polar bears

16 august 2018
With the support of WWF Russia, the weather station on Vaigach Island will be prepared for polar bears` visits - staff will be trained, and the building and territory will be equipped with security systems.

Marine Hydrometeorological Station named after E.K. Fedorov (MG-2) is located on the north of Vaigach island, between the Kara and the Barents seas. Here, four specialists live alongside polar bears all year round.

According to Natalya Morozova, head of the weather station, bears are often guests there; the hottest time is in spring and autumn, during their migration. So, in 2015, meteorologists were literally locked in the building after 5 aggressively-minded polar bears settled at once near the building. For several days people were afraid to go outside. The authorities had to send a vessel to Vaigach with a helicopter on board. Only with its help predators were driven away, and the weather station continued its work.

Then everything ended well for people. However, meeting with a polar bear can turn into a serious tragedy. In September 2011, the predator tore down a 54-year-old specialist who worked at the meteorological station on the Island of Hayes (Franz Josef Land archipelago). After this, the authorities gave permission to shoot the animal in order to save other workers` lives.

Polar bears at Vaigach weather station

Roman Ershov, the Head of the Northern Hydrometeorological Service (FGBU Northern UGMS), notes the importance of the joint project with WWF Russia: “Prevention of human – polar bear conflicts is one of the main tasks when organizing labor protection at our stations. It is important for us to preserve the life and health of our station staff and minimize harm to the polar bears."

WWF grant to the Northern Hydrometeorological Service will help to protect staff and property of polar station. The building will be equipped with bars on the windows, physical and electronic barriers and video monitoring system will be installed around the territory. Polar explorers will be provided with equipment to deter polar bears.

In addition, the team will be trained. Specialists will learn how to handle household waste so as not to attract animals, how to act correctly when meeting a predator at the station or outside of it, how to use deterrent means and keep records about the behavior of bears.

The staff and the building of Vaigach weather station
"WWF Russia has been working on prevention of human-polar bear conflicts for several years. We have polar pear patrols operating in the villages of the Nenets Autonomous Okrug and in Chukotka, we train the local population and support them with equipment and transport, says Oleg Sutkaitis, Director of the Barents Office, WWF Russia. We will try to apply all our experience and accumulated knowledge to Vaigach Island. I am sure that this project will make the work of polar researchers safer and, at the same time, minimize the threat to the life of polar bears, which are by right the main symbol of the Arctic."

This fall the necessary equipment will be delivered to the station staff on Vaigach Island, then installation work will begin. And in the future, basing on this pilot project, it is planned to create a standard method for preventing conflicts with polar bears, which can be used at other weather stations in the Russian Arctic.

For additional information please contact
Press officer of the Barents projectBarents sea ecoregional programme
Head of barents ecoregional programme