Russian and American officials sign wildlife management agreement

Cooperation across the Bering Strait was recently strengthened when the U.S. and Russia signed a joint wildlife agreement.

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Polar Bear (Photo via Flickr Creative Commons courtesy of Christopher Michel)
Polar Bear (Photo via Flickr Creative Commons courtesy of Christopher Michel)

Officials from the two Arctic nations met in San Diego from March 22-24 to discuss polar bear and snow goose monitoring efforts in Alaska and Chukotka.

Steven Kohl heads the Eurasian efforts at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and was at the meeting.

“So many of these animals spend part of the year on the Russian side of the international dateline and part of the year on the Alaskan side,” Kohl explained.

It’s for that reason that the two nations have met every two or three years since 1972. That’s when the U.S. and the Soviet Union signed the original environmental agreement despite Cold War tensions. Kohl says current relations between the two nations still aren’t getting in the way of joint management efforts.

“Things have gone very well,” Kohl assured. “On both sides, scientists and administrators are making a concerted effort to keep things going, even during the rough times the two countries are experiencing in their relations right now.”

James Kurth, Deputy Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, signed off on the agreement last week alongside his Russian counterpart Amirkhan Amirkhanov.

Kohl says the two parties plan to meet again in Anchorage this November. They’ll review survey data and set quotas for polar bear and snow goose populations. He says in the next two years, Russian and American scientists will also be collaborating on a walrus survey in the Bering Sea.

Emily Russell is the voice of Alaska morning news as Alaska Public Media’s Morning News Host and Producer.

Originally from the Adirondacks in upstate New York, Emily moved to Alaska in 2012. She skied her way through three winters in Fairbanks, earning her Master’s degree in Northern Studies from UAF.

Emily’s career in radio started in Nome in 2015, reporting for KNOM on everything from subsistence whale harvests to housing shortages in Native villages. She then worked for KCAW in Sitka, finally seeing what all the fuss with Southeast, Alaska was all about.

Back on the road system, Emily is looking forward to driving her Subaru around the region to hike, hunt, fish and pick as many berries as possible. When she’s not talking into the mic in the morning, Emily can be found reporting from the peaks above Anchorage to the rivers around Southcentral.

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