The largest representative of the bear family (Ursidae Gray, 1825).
Oshkuy, umky, yavy, urung-ege, nanuk, sir vark - all these are the names of the polar bear in the languages of different peoples inhabiting the Russian Arctic.
The main external difference between the polar bear and other bears is the white fur. In fact, a polar bear's fur is colorless, and each fur has a spiral-shaped cavity filled with air, which helps the animal retain heat very well. Many bears develop a yellowish hue over time.
Adult females grow to 2 m in length and 200-250 kg in weight. Males are much larger. They average 2.5 m in length and 350-600 kg in weight.
The cubs are born about 30 cm tall and weigh about 500 g.
The cubs (1-3, but more often 2) are born in the middle of winter in a den that a pregnant mama bear sets up in the late fall. In March, the family leaves the den. The female takes care of the cubs for the first two years, during which time they no longer lie down in the den.
In the third year (spring), the cubs leave their mother and begin their independent life. The lifespan of a polar bear in the wild is up to 40 years.
The life of the polar bear is closely connected with the sea ice, its main habitat. There, bears hunt their main prey - ringed seal and sea hare.
In late autumn, on the mainland coast and on Arctic islands, pregnant females establish "maternity" dens, in which they bear their young. Other polar bears do not lie in dens.
Polar bears are slow breeding species. A female may have no more than 8-12 cubs in her lifetime. The mortality rate of first-year cubs is very high. The IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group estimates that there are 19 subpopulations of the species totaling 20,000 to 25,000 individuals worldwide.
IUCN Red List status: Vulnerable A3c, which means the polar bear has a 30% decline in abundance over three generations (45 years).
The polar bear is subject to the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), where it is listed in the second Appendix. It includes species that are not necessarily threatened with extinction at this time, but may become so if trade in specimens of these species is not strictly regulated to prevent uses that are incompatible with their survival.
The status of the polar bear in Russia (according to the Red Book of the Russian Federation):
Kara-Barents Sea population: category 4 - uncertain status.
Laptev population: category 3 - rare.
Chukotka-Alaska population: category 5 - recovering.
Hunting of polar bears in the Russian Arctic has been banned since 1957.
Federal Law No. 150-FZ of July 2, 2013 "On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation" introduced new Article 2581 into the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, which provides for criminal liability for the illegal harvesting, keeping, acquisition, storage, transportation, shipping and sale of especially valuable wild animals and aquatic biological resources belonging to species listed in the Red Book of the Russian Federation and (or) protected by international treaties of the Russian Federation, their parts and derivatives. The list of wildlife includes mammals, birds, and fish which are listed in the Red Book of the Russian Federation or are listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to which the Russian Federation is a party. The polar bear is one of the species on this list, approved by Russian Government Resolution No. 978 of October 31, 2013.
At the initiative of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation and with the support of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF Russia), work began in 2008 on the preparation of a Polar Bear Conservation Strategy in the Russian Federation and an Action Plan. Leading polar bear experts in Russia took part in the work on the Strategy and Action Plan. The Strategy was approved by Order No. 26-r of the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation dated July 5, 2010. The goal of the national Strategy is to define mechanisms for the conservation of polar bear populations in the Russian Arctic in the face of growing anthropogenic impact on marine and coastal ecosystems and climate change in the Arctic. The Strategy is an official document that defines the state policy for the conservation of the species. The main objective in implementing the Strategy will be the conservation of polar bear populations in the Russian Arctic in the face of the continuing impact of anthropogenic factors and climate warming.
International Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears
The Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears, which was signed in 1973 by representatives of the five Arctic countries of Canada, Norway, the United States, the USSR, and Denmark, played an extremely important role in the conservation of the world's polar bear population. In the preparation and subsequent implementation of this agreement