A polar bear family feeding at a whale carcass site.

A polar bear family gathers at a whale carcass site in northern Alaska, close to a community. Our annual World Ranger Day Award recognizes the brave men and women who work to keep families safe—whether polar bears or people—across the Arctic.

© Mike Lockhart/Polar Bears International

7/31/2019 2:03:15 PM

2019 World Ranger Day Award

By Barbara Nielsen, Director of Communications

As the sea ice has retreated from Alaska’s northern coast, communities and industry have experienced an uptick in the number of polar bears coming ashore. These include bears feeding on the whale-bone piles in Kaktovik, a town that attracts the highest density of polar bears anywhere in Alaska, along with tourists who arrive to photograph them.

“It’s a potentially dangerous situation,” said Geoff York, Polar Bears International’s senior director of conservation, “yet there hasn’t been a polar bear attack in Alaska since 1993. This is due in no small part to the courage and commitment of the North Slope Borough’s Polar Bear Patrols and the communities that support their efforts.”
In recognition of their work and success, Polar Bears International is proud to present the North Slope Borough's Polar Bear Patrols with our 2019 World Ranger Day Award. We announce the award every year on World Ranger Day, July 31st, to recognize the frontline heroes working to reduce conflict between people and polar bears across the Arctic.
“Members of the North Slope Borough’s Polar Bear Patrols often work under challenging conditions with a considerable amount of risk,” said Susi Miller, a polar bear biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which collaborates on the program. “In communities like Kaktovik, patrollers work around the clock for months at a time during the ice-free season to prevent human-bear incidents from occurring. We wholeheartedly thank them for their continuing efforts to provide community safety.”
The Patrols are active in six coastal communities in northern Alaska: Kaktovik, Nuiqsut (Cross Island), Point Hope, Point Lay, Utqiagvik, and Wainwright. All occur in polar bear habitat and all have experienced problems with polar bears. These range from polar bears strolling down streets in town to bears raiding food caches.
Polar Bears International presents the award each year on World Ranger Day, rotating the award among the five polar bear nations (Canada, Greenland, Russia, Norway, and the U.S.). Past recipients include the late Vladelin Kavry of Russia’s Umky Patrollers; Churchill, Canada’s Polar Bear Alert team; and Wildlife Officer Erling Madsen of Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland.

When given to an individual, the award comes with a new Canada Goose Arctic Parka and a cash award with a total value of $2000 USD. When a team is chosen, we work with the respective managers and government to decide on a path for additional recognition, which could include direct support to the program, donation to a regional cause, or simple equipment needs.

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