WWF Russia has welcomed the news that a new nature reserve has been established in Chukotka to help conserve the unique coastal ecosystem of the Chukchi Sea and its walrus and polar bear populations.
The protected area was declared on December 13, when Roman Kopin, the Governor of Chukotka, signed a decree to establish the nature reserve.
For the past several years WWF-Russia, the Marine Mammal Council, and local residents in the area have worked to preserve the pacific walrus and polar bears in the area of Cape Kozhevnikov. Part of this work involved the creation of the Umky Patrol, or Polar Bear Patrol, which is affiliated with WWF Russia and monitors polar bear populations along the Russian coastline, among other things.
Over a period of four consecutive years, the Chukotka area has hosted some of the biggest coastal walrus haulouts in the world, with more than 50,000 walrus coming ashore at once. Cape Kozhevnikov is also an important place for polar bears. Pregnant polar bear females occasionally make maternity dens on the cape, and in the autumn and winter bears often stay there, scavenging for food.