March 17, 2011

Russia Approves Polar Bear Hunting Quota

Russia approved quotas on Thursday that will allow indigenous tribes to hunt endangered polar bears, according to an AFP report.

The remote Chukotka region was given permission to hunt the endangered species after the governor of the region in northeastern Russia signed a decree that approved a polar bear quota of 29 animals per year.

The limit established in June by a U.S.-Russian commission allows indigenous people in Chukotka and Alaska to kill 58 polar bears per year.

The animals help provide the indigenous people food, clothing, blankets and other products.

The regional government said in a press release that Alaska's native tribes were allowed to harvest bears in the past, but Russia has forbidden hunting polar bears since 1957.

Biodiversity expert Vladimir Krever of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said it is too early for Russia to formally allow polar bears to be killed. 

"There are no mechanisms to control the catch in Chukotka," he told AFP. "The quota includes animals that were killed illegally, and experts estimate that poachers kill at least 30 every year, which is already more than allowed."

Russia's agreement with the U.S. forbids killing "females with cubs, cubs younger than one, and bears in dens, including bears that are preparing for hibernation."