Thanks to the efforts of a conservation group tied with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, open season for hunting polar bears has been canceled in Russia this year.
A Russian-U.S. commission last year agreed to restrict polar bear hunting to 29 animals per year for each country, reports the Associated Press. But the Polar Bear program, established under Putin’s patronage, said this week that Russia had waived its quota for bear hunting.
In 2010, the U.S.-Russia Polar Bear Commission met in Anchorage, Alaska to lift the 50-year ban on polar bear hunting for the benefit of indigenous peoples in Alaska and in far-eastern Russia across the Bering Strait.
At that time, the Commision decided the annual take would be limited to 19 females and 39 males per year (it has been estimated that hunting and poaching accountsfor 100 polar bear deaths a year). It was also agreed that quota numbers would be re-evaluated every year based on scientific data.
“Measures taken by Russia will ensure that the United States will be killing at least 70 polar bears fewer than before, which, according to Russian specialists, will help to sustain and boost the population of this beautiful Arctic animal,” members of The Polar Bear Program said in a statement posted on Putin’s official website.
Last year Putin, a longtime defender of large endangered animals, helped Russian scientists put a tracking collar on a sedated male polar bear. Before leaving the bear, he patted the animal affectionately, shook his paw and said “take care” (AP).
According to Polar Bear International (PBI), “scientists have concluded that the threat to polar bears is ecological change in the Arctic from global warming. Polar bears depend on sea ice for hunting, breeding, and in some cases, denning. Summer ice loss in the Arctic now equals an area the size of Alaska, Texas, and the state of Washington combined.”
Image Credit: Polar Bears International