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WWF-Russia Develops NAO Polar Bear Patrols

28 june 2021
WWF-Russia experts visited the Arctic villages of the Nenets Autonomous District - Amderma and Ust-Kara. WWF experts donated kits of equipment and polar bear scarers to the polar bear patrol volunteers.

The Amderma Polar Bear Patrol consists of 5 people. These are active local residents who drive polar bears away from the village. This year they had to drive polar bears away from this settlement several times. They managed to restrain some bears before they approached houses,  but a few times a polar bear was found already at the entrance of the house.

“The Polar Bear Patrol project was launched in Chukotka, where the problem of polar bears entering villages was especially acute due to the rapid melting of ice. We have adopted this experience and are trying to develop Polar Bear Patrols in those settlements where it is necessary to reduce conflicts between humans and polar bears, ”comments Dmitry Derunov, Biodiversity Conservation Project Coordinator, WWF-Russia Barents office.

Each time a polar bear appears in the village is an emergency, therefore, the Polar Bear Patrol must act in a coordinated and efficient manner. To do this, WWF-Russia experts hand out signaling devices, flares, flare guns and other means to the Patrol as well as fuel, which is "worth its weight in gold" in these lands. All members of the Patrol are provided with radios of a wide range for operational communication of the group.

(с) Tatiana Yulusova

To have all this equipment at hand in case of a sudden appearance of a polar bear, the Patrol was equipped with “emergency cases” - individual backpacks for each patrol officer. The village of Amderma is located on the southern coast of the Kara Sea, the weather conditions are often unfavorable here. For comfortable and efficient work, WWF experts also brought insulated overalls and jackets with distinctive "Polar Bear Patrol" stripes.

“We have seen for ourselves that the Polar bear patrol in Amderma is active and efficient. One evening, one of the local residents reported the appearance of a polar bear in the village. A group of patrolmen gathered in few minutes and drove to the site. We can see that the people involved in this work are not indifferent to it, so this initiative needs to be continued,  supported and developed, ”says Vladimir Melnik, an expert at WWF-Russia.

(с) Tatiana Yulusova

The local administration supports this work and contributes to it in every way. With their support in the village, WWF experts installed 13 warning signs "Caution, polar bears" on houses where people most often walk. Negotiations are under way to install another infrastructure to protect people from polar bears: fences and a system to alert residents about the appearance of a wild mammal. Light and sound annunciators will be switched on by the administration when a polar bear enters the village. 15 sirens will be fixed on lampposts near houses.

(с) Tatiana Yulusova

“Of course, all this work would be impossible without WWF supporters. We are confident that such teamwork and mutual support will lead to success and there will be fewer conflicts with polar bears in the area. In a difficult time of global climate change for the polar bear, the life of every animal is valuable, ”comments Varvara Semenova, Arctic biodiversity coordinator WWF-Russia.

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