Last month, WWF Russia presented study showing that illegal trade in polar bear products had been booming. Skins are for sale at 600,000 rubbles, mostly in Moscow, but internet ads also come from Murmansk.
The environmental group in Moscow has monitored the internet over the last 20 months searching for ads selling or buying polar bear skins. 47 skins for sale have been discovered, some ads offering more than 3 skins, according to the study.
Soviet Union outlawed polar bear hunting in 1957. Most of the skins where put up for illegal sale in Moscow, but WWF has also found skins for sale in Murmansk, St. Petersburg, Chelyabinsk, Kirov, Izhevsk, Dnepropetrovsk and Irkutsk.
The study says the average price for a polar bear skin is 600,000 rubbles (€14,940), sharply up compared with black-market prices ten years ago.
There are between 5,000 and 7,000 polar bears in Russia. Those in the Barents Region are partly migrating between the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard and the Russian islands of Franz Josef Land and Novaya Zemlya.