56 polar bears gathered close to a village in Chukotka

Press release from WWF Russia

WWF Polar bear patrol helps local communities to reduce instances of conflict between animals and people.

In three or for days, more than 50 polar bears get on Kozhevnikov Cape on Chukotka close to the village  Ryrkaypiy looking for food. Now they have found corps of the walruses which have left the Cape in November. On the 5th of December, the members of Polar bear Patrol has counted 56 bears on a small area of one kilometer on the shore.

“Almost all the bears are thin. There are both adult and young animals, including cubs of different ages with their moms,” – says Tatyana Minenko, the head of Bear Patrol on Ryrkaypiy.

Tatyana Minenko and Maksim Dyominov from the Patrol monitor the village area several times a day, stay on watch near the nursery and school to prevent people from facing bears. Their main task is to stop bears from entering the village from the cape. Local administration and residents are volunteering to help the Patrol doing their duty. They are inspecting the area on snowmobiles and control the arriving guests from the cape.

During the bear invasion, all the public events like New Year’s concerts or rehearsals are canceled. And there are special buses bringing kids to the school and nursery.

Polar bears visiting the Cape is quite a typical story for this place, but such a massive gathering of polar bears is quite unusual. But it only confirms the trend: the number of human and predator encounters in the Arctic is increasing. The main reason is the decline of the sea ice area due to the changing climate. In the absence of ice cover, animals are forced to go ashore in search of food.

“If there is enough ice, the bears would go further north to hunt the seals. Until the ice is not thick enough, they will stay ashore and can visit the village due to curiosity and hunger. Spontaneous waste deposits can attract the animals: bears will go for the smell of food waste, regardless of the availability of other food’,- says Mikhail Stishov, Arctic biodiversity projects coordinator, WWF-Russia. – Gathering of polar bears are becoming more frequent, and we have to adapt and find ways to avoid conflicts between people and animals.”

Date of publication: 5 Dec 2019

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