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WWF: Novaya Zemlya Needs Poalr Bear Patrol

27 february 2019
Experts who visited Novaya Zemlya archipelago came to the conclusion that it was necessary to create a “polar bear patrol” in order to reduce the number of human – polar bear encounters in the future. WWF-Russia specialists are ready to support these initiatives.

The commission, that arrived in Novaya Zemlya after the introduction of the emergency regime, included experts of the Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Russian Arctic National Park and the Office of Rosprirodnadzor for the Arkhangelsk Region.

Experts together with representatives of the municipal administration conducted a survey of polar bears around the village, inspected waste deposits and current system of detecting polar bears and driving them away from the buildings.

Experts have concluded that the state of waste deposits, especially food waste, often does not meet the requirements. Waste is stored too close to the polar bears' habitat.

“A new professional structure should be created on Novaya Zemlya to deal with the prevention and mitigation of conflicts between humans and the polar bears. It must have all the necessary powers and technical means to conduct this activity. Without this, an effective resolution of the current situation in the future is not possible,” said Ivan Mizin, Deputy Director for Research at the Russian Arctic National Park.

“Today, when the world celebrates the International Polar Bear Day, it is worth noting that both human and polar bear safety can be ensured only with the interaction of all the stakeholders. We are ready to provide expert support to all those involved in building a competent "polar bear defense”. WWF-Russia has been working in the Arctic regions for over 20 years and successfully implement the Polar Bear Patrol project in Chukotka and the Nenets Autonomous District,” commented WWF-Russia Arctic Biodiversity Conservation Coordinator, Mikhail Stishov.
WWF Russia

In five days experts counted up to 20 polar bears of both sexes and different ages around the settlement. Most of them were on fast ice. The second group of animals kept close to the landfills. All the species were in good condition, well-fed, without signs of disease or injury.

The experts managed to immobilize three adult bears, the males were tagged with ear marks. This will allow identifying animals in the future as well as tracing the migration of the family group.

With the formation of ice in February, most of the bears went to hunt seals, the experts say. Climate forecasts say that in the coming years there will be little ice near the shores of Novaya Zemlya, and the situation may repeat.

According to the results of work on Novaya Zemlya, the expert group presented a number of proposals and recommendations to the municipality to further mitigate possible conflict situations between polar bears and humans.

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Press officer of the Barents project/Barents sea ecoregional program
Chief Projects coordinator