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Премия рунета 2017

POLAR BEAR PATROL IN CHUKOTKA MEETS PINNIPED GUESTS

26 september 2019
Polar bear patrol, operating in the Chukchi village of Ryrkaipiy with the support of WWF-Russia, reports that yesterday several thousand walruses occupied the eastern coast of Cape Kozhevnikov, which is a couple of kilometers from the village. The formation of the haul-out at this time can be considered quite late. Most often this happens in late August or early September.

This means that the patrol begins a hot season. No wonder – Cape Kozhevnikov is known as a polar bear area: since 2007, due to climate change, almost every fall the westernmost rookery of Pacific walruses has been formed on it. Sometimes their number reaches tens of thousands. Polar bears cannot indifferently pass by such an amount of food and linger for a long time near the village.

This year, walruses appeared in the area of ​​Cape Kozhevnikov two or three weeks ago. They gathered in large groups on water, surrounding the cape from different directions. Particularly brave and the most tired in tried to go out to the east, north and south coast of the cape. But a large haul-out did not form in any way. Strong storms and the presence of a dozen polar bears did not allow pinnipeds to stay on the shore for a long time.

Walruses at the Ryrkaipiy village
Tatiana Minenko / WWF-Russia

The Polar bear patrol team was preparing for the arrival of “guests” along with other villagers. People cleared the territory of the rookery from the garbage thrown out by the sea. It was important to do this to prevent the death of cubs in the rubble of logs.

“We notified residents that we have a large rookery. And asked everyone not to approach and not to drive up close to the rookery, so as not to frighten the animals and create panic among walruses. And we also asked people to sign up as volunteers to guard the rookery. To warn is, of course, good, but you still need constant monitoring. It is important for us to minimize the panic descent of animals into the water,” says Tatyana Minenko, the head of the Polar bear patrol of the village of Ryrkaipiy.

Now the patrol manages to control the situation with polar bears, which are about 15 on the cape. As long as there is food for them, predators do not often enter the village. But over the past week, a stormy sea washed 9 dead walruses ashore, some of which are located within the borders of the village. If they are not transferred to the cape in time, polar bears will often appear in the village.

“Polar bear patrol does a very important job,” said Irina Onufrenya, Head of Arctic Projects at WWF-Russia. - Volunteers not only provide security in their native village: they drive away predators and warn villagers about the arrival of polar bears. But they also help to protect rare animals - they protect walruses in rookeries from anxiety and prevent poaching. We hope that the example of patrol in Ryrkaipiy will inspire residents of other Arctic villages and local authorities to take the initiative and join effort to protect fragile northern nature.”
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