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Polar bear on Wrangel Island falls victim to irresponsible humans

23 december 2015
WWF-Russia is appalled by the irresponsible actions of construction workers on Wrangel Island.
According to information received by WWF-Russia from the nature reserve located on Wrangel Island, a polar bear was maimed by a petard thrown to her by humans. The animal caught the explosive which caused probably lethal injuries. Judging from the predator’s behavior, she approached the people expecting food as she had been fed by humans in the past. Besides, the workers had a food garbage dump on the island in spite of the nature reserve staff’s warnings.
“This incident is nothing short of sadism. Polar bears are very curious; often they are not afraid of people. This incident is similar to giving an explosive-laden candy to a child. Unfortunately, Russian legislation is not strict enough: in the event an animal dies, the maximum prosecution is a 3-year prison sentence or a fine of up to 1 million rubles. However, usually courts are reluctant to apply punitive measures and the true prosecution of criminals is hard to bring about,” - said Vladimir Krever, the head of WWF-Russia biodiversity program.
“This is a typical example of when the exploration of the Arctic brings many untrained people into the region who do not know how to behave when encountering a polar bear and violate safety regulations. The administration of the companies that work in the region must raise awareness among construction workers and prohibit feeding bears even if people have good intentions,” – said Viktor Nikiforov, project leader of Russia’s Polar Bear Patrol programme.
“It’s important to point out that the companies carrying out any business activity in the Arctic must realize that they are responsible for the preservation of the environment. They should select sub-contractors very responsibly, supervise their work, not only the quality of their work but also their compliance with environmental laws and regulations. Had the work been set up appropriately, such an incident would have been impossible,” – commented Oleg Sutkaitis, the head of the Barents ecoregional program of the WWF Russia.
The polar bear is protected by international treaties signed by the Russian Federation. The worldwide population of polar bears is no more than 25,000.
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