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Sea ice, polar bears and WWF experts are approaching Chukotka

19 november 2007
Today a group of experts of WWF Russia and WWF Sweden are going to Chukotka. They will join “Polar Bear Patrols” of Chukotka to monitor migrating polar bears.

Arctic winter is covering the Chukchi Sea by ice. Soon polar bears will come on the Chukotka mainland coast. They are coming with ice advancing from north, from Wrangel Island.

According to expert estimate Chukchi-Alaskan population of polar bears is about 2000 (this population is shared by Alaska and Chukotka).  Coastal monitoring performed by WWF “Polar bear Patrol” last winter allows speculating that about 300-400 polar bears appear on the arctic coast of Chukotka in late autumn and early winter. In summer observers registered just few bears near villages of Aion, Ryrkaipiy and Nutepelmen.

“Polar Bear Patrols” get ready for appearance of polar bears: carcasses of walruses that died on coastal haulouts were used to form six “feeding spots” to correct the polar bear distribution on the coast so that they do not enter villages. However like last year patrols experience lack of special bear means for scaring bears away from settlements.

WWF experts will start their work from Shmidtovskiy district of Chukotka. It is planned to use satellite communication technology for online reports about migration of polar bears. News will be posted on the “polar Bear Patrol” website.

'To work out appropriate measures for polar bear conservation it is very important to know their seasonal distribution – says Viktor Nikiforov Director of Regional Programs WWF Russia. – Apparently this year majority of “coastal” bears will appear between Pevek and Cape Shmidt. It is also important to pay special attention to protection of coastal haulouts of pacific walruses and areas where polar bear females make maternity dens”.