By Geoff York
We are all happy to see fair weather in the morning. It is not unusual in coastal areas of Alaska to be stuck for days with fog, wind, and weather. We had heard reports of a brown bear and a cub along the road, but fail to see it on our way to the airstrip. Plenty of caribou and ptarmigan glance our way as we make our drive and there are patches of snow dotting the still brown tundra. Winter has not fully let go of this northern place.
I am truly fortunate to visit such places and have the opportunity to not only see, but enter the icy habitat of the polar bear and handle wild bears on the ground. Few people will ever visit the Arctic let alone see a wild polar bear, but they remain one of the best known and loved species in the world. I hope the work being done by research groups and Indigenous people like this across the Arctic will help us conserve this amazing species long into the future. I also hope the interest people have in polar bears will lead them to take actions, both personal, and through regional and national policies, that will protect their unique home, the Arctic.
WWF International Arctic Programme polar bear specialist, Geoff York, travelled to the Chukchi Sea area with the US Fisheries and Wildlife Service, conducting research into the status of polar bear populations in the area, and blogged for the WWF Climate blog while he was there.