History of the Nature Reserve Creation
For the first time nature oriented measures were introduced by the second chief of the settlement, Aref Ivanovich Mineev, who issued a decree prohibiting the hunting for Arctic Foxes in the Northern part of the island. This decree made that region a wildlife reserve.
In 1953 Chukotka government adopted a resolution about the protection of Walruses’ rookeries on Wrangel island, and in 1968 a wildlife reserve protecting walruses, Polar bears, White geese nests, Brant geese and seabirds colonies was organized.
In 1975 musk oxen were introduced to the island from Nunivak island and the executive committee of the Magadan region allotted Wrangel and Herald islands for future nature reserve.
On March 23 of 1976 the decree of the Council of Ministers of the RSFSR №189 about the foundation of the state nature reserve “Wrangel Island” including Wrangel and Herald islands was signed in order to protect the unique nature complexes of the islands.
Later Chukotka government signed a resolution on the organization of a protected zone 5 km wide around the island.
“Wrangel Island” Nature reserve became the first Russian Arctic nature reserve
During 1976-78 the state reindeer farm was nearly eliminated which was accompanied by the decrease of the number of animals according to ecologists’ recommendations of 1500. Zvezdny village was also almost closed. Hunting for Polar foxes and sea animals was ceased, apart from a small quote for sea mammals hunting (seals and walruses) for the needs of the aboriginal inhabitants (Eskimo and Chukchee).
In 1992 all air defense objects were eliminated and the military base was technically closed. That year radiolocation station on the Rogers strip was closed, and Ushakovskoe village became the only remaining settlement.
In 1997 according to the order of the Government of the Russian Federation № 1623-р the area of the nature reserve was widened by means of adjoining the offshore zone 12 nautical miles wide. This decision was made in answer to the proposal of the State Committee for Environmental Protection and solicitation of the governor of Chukotka region A. Nazarov, made, in turn, according to the recommendations of Russian ecologists.
In 1999 an offshore zone 24 nautical miles wide was organized according to the decree of the governor of Chukotka Autonomous Region (№ 91 from 25 May 1999).
The creation of a large protected offshore zone around Wrangel and Herald islands ensured a high nature oriented status for this huge Arctic region that has ecological significance of a truly planetary scale. This fact also had important international and geopolitical meaning and became a great contribution of Russia to the support of ecological health of the Arctic. With the example of Wrangel island Russia created a representative model of complex nature protection of the Arctic, where island and sea ecosystems are preserved as an integral whole. This model had to and, as we see from its future development, became the standard of ecologically oriented approach.