Polar bear census could cost Russia $60 million
in RIA Novosti
December 16, 2011
A census of Russian polar bears could cost up to $60 million, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Russia said on Wednesday.
The Russian Arctic is estimated to be home to about 5,000 white bears or about a quarter of the worldwide polar bear population and the animal is ranked an endangered species in Russia.
Scientists group them into three or four major populations.
"A polar bear count is an immensely expensive project for which specialists from even richer Western countries sometimes lack funds. At least $10-15 million is needed to assess the number of bears in one population in the Russian Arctic, and there are four of them," said Mikhail Stishov, a WWF Russia coordinator for Arctic conservation projects.
Five years ago, WWF Russia launched the "Bear Patrol" program, under which groups of local residents patrol and prevent poaching in known polar bear habitats.