Russia confirms Chukchi Sea polar bears not at risk from climate change or poaching

A statement yesterday from Yegor Vereshchagin, wildlife conservation manager from Chukotka, Russia  (Polar Bears Adjust to Climate Change20 February 2018) confirms that Chukchi Sea polar bears are currently doing extremely well.

Contrary to previous reports and predictions (e.g. Amstrup 2011; Amstrup et al. 2007, 2008; Durner et al. 2009), there appears to be no threats due to recent declines in summer sea ice (Rode and Regehr 2010; Rode et al. 2013, 2014, 2018) or from poaching.

“Representatives of other Arctic regions and the scientific community were more concerned about climatic change and its negative effect on polar bears, but these issues do not loom large with us. Both scientific data and traditional knowledge prove that nothing threatens our bears. During spring counts of dens we often find female bears with three cubs, which proves that the population is in good shape and there is no danger of a decrease in the population,” Mr. Vereshchagin said.

It was also pointed out that no evidence of poaching had been found on Chukotka lately. Experts, who followed web sites for illegal trade in skins and other derivatives, discovered about 40 advertisements and passed the information along to the Ministry of the Interior. None of those bears were hunted on Chukotka.” [my bold]

Increased open-water season in the Chukchi Sea between 1979 and 2015 shown in this NISDC graph (from Serreze et al. 2016):

The statement from Vereshchagin was part of a brief report from the Russian delegation to the early February Range States meeting in Fairbanks, Alaska. Unfortunately, the presentation given by Vereshchagin was not included in the documents provided on the meeting website.

It’s just one of many reasons there is much to be optimistic about with regard to polar bear conservation. More on this topic next week.

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