In coastal Russia, WWF is actively working with local communities to protect migrating walruses—which are economically and culturally significant for native populations—to help the species adapt to its rapidly changing habitat. In particular, WWF engages residents to establish strict no-fly zones and limit access to haulout areas, reducing the risk of harmful disturbances.
With support from WWF’s Wildlife Adaptation Innovation Fund, researchers are also collaborating with the residents of Enurmino to create artificial feeding spots along polar bear routes. Since 2017, we’ve worked with local villagers to relocate walruses that have died of natural causes from the beach to known polar bear feeding areas along the Chukotka coast, which helps to keep polar bears and other predators away from the walrus nesting grounds.
Research suggests that because of these interventions, there’s been a significant decline in polar bear disturbances to haulouts and human-polar bear conflict near Enurmino. That success has inspired residents in Ryrkaypiy and Vankarem—two other villages located near haulout areas—to undertake similar projects next year.
Still, the future remains tenuous for the Pacific walrus and countless other Arctic species. If urgent action isn’t taken to limit the worst impacts of climate change, the loss of sea ice will put increasing strain on vulnerable populations.