Polar bear
© Staffan Widstrand / WWF

Conflict

How northern communities are keeping polar bears and people safe from conflict

As Arctic sea ice thins and retreats, increasing numbers of polar bears are spending longer periods in the summer open-water season resting along Arctic coastlines.

Here, their powerful sense of smell attracts them to human waste, stored food, dog teams, and animal carcasses—bringing them into greater conflict with Arctic people.


As powerful predators, polar bears pose a major risk to human life and property. Throughout the polar bear’s range, attacks on humans and property continue to rise. In recent years, more than 20 direct attacks on humans have been reported within the polar bear’s range.

WWF is helping communities live safely alongside the Arctic’s top predator.

How we work

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Food storage and waste management

We work with communities to improve waste management, safely store food for people and dogs, and to remove animal carcasses from towns
©Elisabeth Kruger / WWF-US
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Polar bear patrols

We fund training and salaries for local people who deter polar bears from villages and safeguard communities.
©Elisabeth Kruger / WWF-US
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Sharing knowledge across the Arctic

We organize workshops and exchange visits between Arctic communities facing polar bear conflict. For example, members of the Russian polar bear patrols traveled to Alaska with WWF’s support to help communities there launch their own patrols.
©Elisabeth Kruger / WWF-US
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Providing educational opportunities

We share information with local communities, scientists and commercial sectors (tourism, mineral extraction) on preventing conflicts and dealing with polar bears.
©Margarita Petrenuk / WWF-Russia

Living side by side with polar bears

As climate change causes summer sea ice to dwindle in the Arctic, hungry polar bears increasingly come into conflict with local people.

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Shocking bears

One constant in the world of bears is that people and bears are increasingly getting in each other’s way.

Read more