Support The Moscow Times!

Illegal Polar Bear Trade Booming

Moscow is at the center of a small but booming illegal trade in polar bear body parts, new research says.

The average asking price for a polar bear skin hit 600,000 rubles ($19,600) during the 20-month study, the highest since monitoring of the trade began in 2003.

The poaching of polar bears and the sale of their hides over the Internet has not fallen, but prices are up, indicating increasing demand.

The asking price for a polar bear head, which is cheaper than an entire hide, hit 130,000 rubles, more than the average for a whole skin in 2003, according to the research by the World Wildlife Fund and Bear Patrol.

In the study, researchers found 29 online advertisements for skins and three for polar bear paws, offering a total of 49 skins. Fourteen of the ads were offering the products in Moscow. Other cities included St. Petersburg, Chelyabinsk, Murmansk, Kirov and Irkutsk.

While the number of people attempting to sell bear parts has remained more or less stable, more sellers are now offering multiple skins.

There are thought to be between 5,000 and 7,000 polar bears in the Russian Arctic. Polar bears are a protected species in Russia, which outlawed hunting of the animals in 1957.

… we have a small favor to ask. As you may have heard, The Moscow Times, an independent news source for over 30 years, has been unjustly branded as a "foreign agent" by the Russian government. This blatant attempt to silence our voice is a direct assault on the integrity of journalism and the values we hold dear.

We, the journalists of The Moscow Times, refuse to be silenced. Our commitment to providing accurate and unbiased reporting on Russia remains unshaken. But we need your help to continue our critical mission.

Your support, no matter how small, makes a world of difference. If you can, please support us monthly starting from just $2. It's quick to set up, and you can be confident that you're making a significant impact every month by supporting open, independent journalism. Thank you.

Once
Monthly
Annual
Continue
paiment methods
Not ready to support today?
Remind me later.

Read more