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Russia has joined the World Wildlife Fund's Polar Bear Patrol project,
Russia has joined the World Wildlife Fund's Polar Bear Patrol project, an attempt to count the total number of polar bears in the wild, the WWF said on its website on Wednesday.

Rangers from Taimyr, a peninsula on Siberia's Arctic coast and part of Russia's largest nature reserve, will start collecting data on polar bears in and around Dickson, the only one small town on the Arctic coast of Taimyr Peninsula, this autumn.

"The importance of the Arctic coast of the Taimyr Peninsula and the Severnaya Zemlya archipelago for the conservation of polar bears will increase in the coming years due to climate change," said Viktor Nikiforov, the director of WWF-Russia's regional programs.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, two thirds of the world's 25,000 polar bears could die by 2050, as the ice they use to hunt seals melts due to global warming.

The World Wildlife Fund began compiling data on polar bears in Dickson at the end of 2007. Russia officially joined the project on July 25 this year.

The illegal trade in polar bear hides, a species in steady decline throughout the Arctic, is on the rise in Russia.

The Soviet Union banned the hunting of polar bears in 1957. The creatures are currently listed as 'vulnerable' on the IUCN Red List.


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