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Премия рунета 2017

Polar bears began to come to Russian villages in Chukotka

06 august 2019
Residents of the Chukchi village of Ryrkaipiy, located on the shore of the Arctic Ocean, began to encounter polar bears near the settlement. Polar Bear Patrol, organized by the locals with the support of WWF-Russia, is forced to drive predators away from the village several times a day.

The first bears were spotted at Ryrkaipiy a week ago. July 28, a young male came from Cape Weber to the village. The patrol quickly drove the animal away. A little later, five kilometers away, near the village of Cape Schmidt, a female with 2 cubs appeared. Two more bears came to Cape Kozhevnikov. One of them - a five-year-old male - came to the village two days in a row. He also had to be driven away by flare guns and hunter signals.

“WWF Russia has been supporting polar bear patrols in Chukotka for ten years. This season, we also provided financial support to the patrolmen in Ryrkaipiy, so that they had everything necessary for effective work, - says Irina Onufrenya, coordinator of Arctic projects at WWF-Russia. - These people are doing a very important job. First of all, they ensure the safety of local residents, and also help to save the life of a polar bear - a species that is red-listed in Russia.”

According to Tatyana Minenko, the head of the Polar Bear Patrol in Ryrkaipiy, usually polar bears begin to arrive in the village in early July and stay until January or even March of the next year. But this year, animals appeared later due to the large amount of sea ice.

Polar bears near Ryrkaipiy village, August 2019
Tatiana Minenko / WWF-Russia

Now, according to the patrolmen, the situation in the village is calm: people warned and instructed, everyone follows safety precautions.

“We drive out polar bears two or three times a day. We have to respond to calls from villagers day and night, - says Tatyana Minenko. - A little later, when there will be more animals, there will be a lot of work. Their number may increase to 25-30 species. But this may not be the limit. It all depends on the ice situation at sea. If there is no ice, there can be 25 animals and more on the shore at the same time. If there is ice on the sea bears can drift past, and there will be less of them on the shore."

This year the bear patrol has one more concern - the villagers are disturbed not only with polar, but also with brown bears. Residents note that animals often come to the village and “behave at home” although “for them this is not typical behavior on the shore”.

Polar Bear Patrol is supported within the WWF-Russia project which is part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI). The German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety (BMU) supports this initiative on the basis of a decision adopted by the German Bundestag.
For additional information please contact
Leading projects coordinator
Press officer of the Barents projectBarents sea ecoregional programme