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Polar Bear Patrol in Chukotka chases away polar bears almost daily
05 october 2022
Over 40 encounters with polar bears have been recorded by the Bear Patrol in the small village of Billings in the past month and a half. Polar bears were driven away in most cases, and thanks to the work of the patrolmen, serious conflicts were prevented.
Arctic village of Billings in Chukotka this fall set the record for the most polar bear sightings - locals were reporting the encounters almost every day. This summer, ice clung to the coast of Chukotka for a long time, but as soon as the sea cleared up, polar bears began to enter coastal villages. To help residents avoid unwanted encounters with polar bears, the Polar Bear Patrol works in Billings. A group of volunteers drives the animals away from the settlement, cruises around the village several times a day, and regularly explains people the rules and principles of behavior when meeting with a predator.
This year, polar bears were noticed not only on the shore. Sometimes the animals came right into the village. There were several rather tense cases when a polar bear climbed onto the roof of a meteostation or broke in a window in a residential building. One polar bear was noted for unusual behavior and called “a window man” - moving around the village it looked into several windows of living houses.
“Now I talk about it with a smile, but in general it’s scary when some polar bears are not afraid of humans. After all, we immediately try to drive them away, even on the approaches to the village, so that the animals understand that a human is something bad. It is the way we care about them. The farther from the human, the less problem, the safer they are,” says one of the patrolmen Boris Ivaeshev.
In the work, Boris and the entire Patrol, consisting of three people, are assisted by equipment and dogs. Boris's dog named Tyson often appears in the reports. It knows how to properly fend off polar bears and is very helpful to the patrolmen.
Other residents of the village are also ncluded in the work of the Patrol and help monitor the polar bear situation. Basically, these are employees of the meteostation, he housing and communal services, and the village administration. Operational information can be very useful for the timely driving away of polar bears. As a thank you to all assistants, the patrolmen decided to give small souvenirs - T-shirts.
“It is hard to imagine what situation people and polar bears would be in if the Polar Bear Patrol did not work there. Probably, Billings would have appeared in the report of incidents with polar bears on a par with the village of Dixon. Therefore, we really appreciate the work of people who honestly and conscientiously do this,” says Varvara Semenova, Chief Coordinator of Arctic biodiversity projects at WWF-Russia. - In general, in the Russian Arctic, the problem with conflicts is only gaining momentum and expanding its geography. And it is important that there is already an example of positive experience in solving it in Chukotka. In fact, the successful work of Polar Bear Patrol is a team effort in which the county administration, WWF and the residents of the village of Billings are involved.”