August 11th, 2009 | By Thomas Lennartz | Filed in Arctic Animals, Conservation, Current Events, IN THE NEWS, SCIENCE, Uncategorized
ANADYR, August 11 Itar-Tass – The first meeting of the Russian-US Polar Bear Commission will meet in Moscow on September 23-25, Itar-Tass learnt on Tuesday from spokesman of the agriculture department of the Chukotka National Area Igor Mikhno.
“Russia at the meeting will be represented, apart from officials of the Ministry of Natural Resources, by a Chukotka Peninsula delegation of four people,” Mikhno said. “The meeting agenda includes the following questions: studies of polar bear population, protection of their natural habitat as well as prospects for aboriginal hunting.”
The intergovernmental agreement on preservation and use of the Chukotka-Alaska polar bear population was signed in 2000. It contains detailed regulations on possible hunting of polar bears by Chukotka and Alaska ethnic groups. Earlier, a virtually complete ban on white bear hunting was in force in the Russian Arctic, while American natives in Alaska villages, located on the Bering, Chukchi and Beaufort seashores, were permitted to hunt.
The US administration already appointed its representatives to the Russian-US commission – an administration representative, Jeffrey Hafket, and chairman of the Alaska Native Polar Bear Commission Nanuuq Charlie Johnson. The Russian side includes deputy director of the environmental state policy department of the Ministry of Natural Resources Amirkhan Amirkhanov and coordinator of the Bear Patrol monitoring centre Sergei Kavry from northern ethnic groups.
The population of polar bears, put down into the Red Book in Russia 50 years ago, is assessed at around 2,000. The situation is monitored by the All-Russian Environment Institute and the World Wildlife Fund. In the opinion of scholars, the number of polar bears in the world will dwindle down by a third over the greenhouse effect in another 50 years. It is suggested to work out urgently a global programme for rescuing these animals.
The coming into force of the Russian-US Agreement does not mean an automatic start of hunting polar bears in Chukotka. The bilateral commission will initially examine a programme for polar bear conservation and will decide the question on quotas. A moratorium is also possible on shooting bears both in Chukotka and Alaska.