Portrait of two polar bears with text, "Look what we accomplished, together."

Photo: Daniel J. Cox / Natural Exposures

Conservation Highlights from 2021

By Barbara Nielsen, Senior Director of Communications



16 Dec 2021

During this season of gratitude and wonder, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on our favorite highlights from the past year—and to celebrate all we accomplished together for polar bear conservation. Here are 9 ways you warmed our hearts and provided inspiration in 2021:

Baby polar bear

Photo: Merril Darees / Polar Bears International

Protecting Moms and Cubs – Your generosity allowed us to begin developing new technology to find and map polar bear dens, which are hidden under the snow. This is critically important as more industry moves into the Arctic, threatening dens and putting moms and cubs in harm’s way. Watch our video

Polar Bears International employees building radar equipment

Photo: Kieran McIver / Polar Bears International

“Detect and Protect” Research – Being able to detect an approaching polar bear even in a heavy snowfall, fog, or the dead of night would make a real difference in keeping polar bears and people safe. Your support is allowing us to test the use of motion-tracking radar as early warning systems. Read our Q&A 

A mother polar bear and her cub

Photo: Tim Auer / Polar Bears International

Global Education – From our live Tundra Connections webcasts to new lesson plans on polar bears and an interactive education center on our new website, you enabled us to ignite curiosity around the world and inspire people to get involved in ensuring the polar bears’ future. Visit our Education Center

Close up of a polar bear's face

Photo: Kieran McIver / Polar Bears International

Expanding Polar Bear Safe Communities – Polar bear-human conflict is a growing problem as the Arctic warms, which is why we’re working with frontline communities to help them stay ahead of the curve. Your generosity has allowed us to expand the Polar Bear Safe Community concept. Discover more

PBI's Burr on Fur tracker on a polar bear's fur

Photo: Emily Ringer / Polar Bears International

Burr on Fur Tracking Devices – Your generosity allowed us to test small, temporary “Burr on Fur” tags to track polar bears, developed through a partnership with 3M. In 2021, we tested the tags on both wild and zoo bears, refining designs based on the results. Watch our video

A polar bear standing up on the ice

Photo: Dave Sandford

Polar Bear Specialist Group Every 2 to 3 years, scientists from the 5 polar bear nations meet to set research and conservation priorities for the world’s polar bears. Our staff scientists regularly take part in these high-level discussions—with this year’s meeting held virtually due to the pandemic. Learn more

Northern lights over a forest in winter

Photo: Simon Gee / Polar Bears International

Arctic Inspiration When people fall in love with polar bears, they’re inspired to get involved with their conservation. Your support allows us to touch hearts and minds through our live Polar Bear Cams—and through our new website, photos, videos, interpretive center, and live broadcasts. Watch our cams

A mother polar bear and her cub on the sea ice

Photo: BJ Kirschhoffer / Polar Bears International

Global Media Coverage – Global narratives help shape global policy, which is why we strive to share the polar bears’ story with the world. This year our coverage had a global reach of 2.2 billion people and stories in the AP, BBC, The New York Times, Guardian, AFP, Weather Channel India, Smithsonian, and more. See a sampling of recent press

Interior shot from COP26 in Glasgow

Photo: Emily Ringer / Polar Bears International

Policy and Advocacy – This year, your generosity enabled us to launch a new policy department to complement our research, education, and outreach efforts. From representation at the COP26 climate talks to ongoing policy involvement, we’re working to protect the polar bears’ future. Read about COP26

We are deeply grateful for all you made possible this year. Thank you for caring about polar bears and the Arctic—and for being such a valued part of our network.