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WWF Polar Bear Patrol helps reindeer herders affected by polar bears

17 september 2021
The WWF Polar Bear Patrol team from the village of Amderma in the Nenets Autonomous Okrug helped reindeer herders who were held hostage by a polar bear in the tundra for a day. The predator walked around the territory of the camp and killed two riding deer, which were on a leash next to the tent. The nomads had no means of scaring off, so the bear posed a threat to the life of the entire family of reindeer herders.

A family of reindeer herders stood by the South River, 28 kilometers from the coast of the Kara Sea and the village of Amderma. Fortunately, telephone communication was available and the head of the family reported the incident to the Polar Bear Patrol of the village of Amderma. The patrolmen acted immediately. During the day they managed to organize a real rescue operation - to collect means of scaring off (flare guns, flares), to find transport to deliver them to reindeer herders, and also to drive the polar bear away from people in the tundra.

WWF Polar BEAR PATROL scared away POLAR BEAR FROM family reindeer herders

“Such a well-coordinated and efficient work of the Polar Bear Patrol is what we have been striving for for several years. The success of this operation lies in the joint work of the inhabitants of the village of Amderma, the regular support of the WWF-Russia brigade with equipment, fuel and methodological recommendations. Such situations, unfortunately, have arisen more and more often in recent years, and their geography is only expanding, covering almost all coastal regions of the Russian Arctic. There is an obvious need to create such rapid reaction teams to resolve conflicts with the polar bear not only in the Nenets Autonomous Okrug, but also in other regions. Using the example of Amderma, we see that it works, so we will try to develop this area, ”comments Varvara Semenova, Chief Coordinator of Arctic Biodiversity Conservation Projects at WWF Russia
Deer attacked by a polar bear
(c) Eduard Davletshin

This incident clearly showed that the Amderma Polar Bear Patrol is working and ready to respond in emergency situations. But they need a reliable vehicle that allows them to travel long distances in the tundra. WWF Russia plans to purchase equipment in the future.

For additional information please contact
Senior Arctic biodiversity coordinator WWF-Russia
Press officer of Barents ecoregional programme