A poacher was left almost unpunished for killing 5 polar bears
The poacher escaped a real serious punishment and was just slightly frightened. He was adjudged guilty and got two years of conditional sentencing (with a disciplinary probation of two years). The poacher was imposed a money penalty and paid 50 000 rubles (1900 US dollars) for killing 5 bears.
According to the information received from WWF Canada experts, the penalty for one illegally hunted polar bear in Canada could be 10 000 US dollars. In case when the fact of the organized poaching and illegal hunting was detected, the penalty may amount to 25-150 000 US dollars and penitentiary imprisonment for the period from 6 month up to 5 years.
“This judicial trial process reflects incompleteness and imperfection of Russian legislation” – says Viktor Nikiforov, Director of regional programms of WWF-Russia. - At the moment an average price of a polar bear skin is about 5000 US dollars on the black market. It is evident that the penalty of 1900 US dollars paid by the poacher for 5 killed polar bears is just a so called tax for poaching. The example of our arctic neighbors in Canada and Norway shows that a poacher hunting for a polar bear is in fear of serious troubles, because of the hard law and punishment.”
Annually in Russian part of Arctic poachers kill about 200-300 polar bears. It is the most serious threat for the world polar bear population, which accounts about 23-25 000 species (among them about 7000 species inhabit in Russian Arctic).
At the moment WWF together with russian scientists is working out the strategy of conservation of the polar bear. The strategy will include the program aimed on creation of new protected nature areas, improvement of a polar bear monitoring, and development of legislation system as well.
“However, just regulatory documents alone will not save polar bears. Aside a strict protection, great work on ecological education of local people is extremely needed” - says Viktor Nikiforov.
It will be recalled that a poacher Evgeny Kutyrev was arrested in January 2006 for killing 5 polar bears. Since 2000 it was the first precident when such case was brought into court. In spite of the fact that polar bear is included in the Red Book of Russia and IUCN (International Union of Nature Conservation), and is strictly protected by the Government, the poaching on this species does not stop.
According to WWF investigation about 55-60 polar bear skins are offered for sale at the average price of 4700 US dollars in the Internet every year. The main places of illegal poaching are the coastal villages of Chukotskoe Sea (Chukotskaya Autonomous Area), the south part of Novaya Zemlya Islands, and the suburbs of Dicson village.