Millenia of evolution have prepared Arctic species like the polar bear, walrus and narwhal for life on and around the sea ice. Now their habitat is radically shifting in a matter of decades.
Polar bear assessment brings both good and troubling news
In October 2019, the Polar Bear Specialist Group of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) released a new assessment of polar bears. The findings reveal the most up-to-date information for polar bear populations.Read more
Why it matters
Because of climate change, ice cover is changing rapidly, in both extent and thickness, and shrinking far too quickly for these species to adapt.
Our work focuses on species that symbolise the health of ecosystems, are especially important for Arctic peoples, and face a high level of threat.
How we work
Whales depend on sound to survive. WWF is working to limit sound pollution in Arctic waters by making parts of the ocean important for whales off limits to particularly loud industrial activities.
WWF's global work to reduce human-wildlife conflict is based in our Netherlands office.
For more than a decade, WWF has worked to stop offshore oil and gas development that threatens the wildlife and local communities that thrive in the Arctic’s often brutal environment.
WWF has produced the first-ever report on the circumpolar conservation status of walrus.
WWF supported a project to collect rare drone footage of bowhead, one of Canada’s largest and longest-lived marine mammals.
As Finland's climate warms, the country is seeing less snow cover. WWF is helping the extremely endangered Saimaa ringed sealsfind suitable places to nest by creating man-made snow banks.
WWF catalyzes innovation. From extracting DNA from snowy pawprints to supporting tests of infrared camera systems for counting polar bears, WWF works to increase efficiency, reliability, and cost effectiveness of Arctic research.
WWF-Russia supports anti-poaching raids and improved population monitoring to map reindeer migration routes and likely poaching hotspots
In the community of Arviat, WWF supports a polar bear patrol and pilot projects with food storage containers, solar-powered electric fencing and diversionary feeding stations.
Since 2015, Greenland’s first polar bear patrol has worked through the polar bear migration season to keep the community of Ittoqqortoormiit safe. Each morning the polar team patrols the community on ATVs, using deterrence measures to frighten bears away. WWF also guides the community and government on improving polar bear safety.
In Greenland, WWF advocates for sustainable hunting quotas to ensure healthy fish and wildlife populations.
WWF is working with partners to protect Bristol Bay’s unmatched salmon runs and biodiversity through science and advocacy.
WWF addresses conservation of polar bears at the local, national, and international levels. We support community initiatives such as polar bear patrols and contribute to planning and implementing range-wide conservation plans.
In the 19th century, Arctic foxes were a common sight in Norway and Sweden, but they were nearly exterminated by overhunting. WWF-Sweden is supporting work to grow and stabilize the Swedish Arctic fox population.
The first circumpolar report on walrus conservation recommends research into the effects of industrial activities on the Arctic animals.
Along the northern coast of Alaska, WWF supports several active polar bear patrols and education programs.
Svalbard is a hotspot for polar bear tourism - and conflict. The local government is working with organizations like WWF, scientists and the tourist sector to find the best methods for managing conflict.
A WWF expedition in 2013 collected DNA samples from the walruses of the Laptev Sea to determine their relationship to other subspecies.
Working with northern communities in the Arctic by providing resources and expertise to ensure that community viewpoints on conservation issues are heard in decision-making processes impacting caribou habitat.
WWF is supporting Norwegian scientists on Svalbard who are researching the local polar bear population.
WWF is working with Saami to explore ways of reducing future cumulative impacts of different pressures (like mining, wind power, forestry, tourism and large carnivores) on reindeer herding in Sweden.
WWF supports polar bear surveys using an innovative mark-recapture technique that does not require tranquilising the bears.
WWF has created maps and posters for Canadian ships in the Arctic to help mariners identify and avoid marine mammals.
WWF supports the work of the Norwegian Polar Institute, which is tracking rare bowhead whales near Svalbard.
WWF supports a multi-partner research project with local Inuit communities, fitting satellite radio-transmitters to narwhals to investigate seasonal movements, key staging and wintering habitats, dive depths and diets.
Meet the team
Majestic creature of the far north, the polar bear is the world's largest terrestrial carnivore. Its Latin name, Ursus maritimus, means 'sea bear': an apt name for this amazing species which spends much of its life in, around, or on the water - predominantly on the sea ice.
The walrus is easily recognised by its sheer size and magnificent tusks. It is a keystone species in Arctic marine ecosystems. The walrus was once threatened by commercial hunting, but today the biggest danger it faces is climate change.