The governor of Russia's remote Chukotka region, must not understand the meaning of the word "endangered."
Last week he signed a decree allowing the area's indigenous people to hunt and kill 29 polar bears each year, including 19 females.
Russian wildlife campaigners condemned the move, saying the polar bear was already threatened by a shrinking habitat and rampant poaching.
One wildlife campaigner, said the decision would
"threaten the survival of the polar bear in the Russian Arctic and will have not only ecological but serious social and political consequences for us."
The authorities defended the partial lifting of the ban, arguing that hunting polar bears for their meat and their fur was a traditional part of local Chukchi culture in the Russian Arctic. They said hunters would not be allowed to export bear skins or to sell bear meat commercially.
Russia's decision to allow polar bear hunting for the first time since the Soviet Union banned the practice in 1957 was made possible after the Kremlin signed a treaty with the United States governing both countries' polar bear populations on either side of the Bering Strait.
[Image via WENN.]
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