WWF will help meteorologists protect themselves from polar bears
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.
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.
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.