How we work
© Alexei Ebel / WWF-Canon

Arctic wildlife

Millenia of evolution have prepared Arctic species like the polar bear, walrus and narwhal for life on and around the sea ice. Now their habitat is radically shifting in a matter of decades.

Why it matters

Because of climate change, ice cover is changing rapidly, in both extent and thickness, and shrinking far too quickly for these species to adapt.

Our work focuses on species that symbolise the health of ecosystems, are especially important for Arctic peoples, and face a high level of threat.

Our solutions

© US Coast Guard
Animals don’t recognize borders, so strong international regulations are a cornerstone of our work in the Arctic.
© VDOS Global / WWF-Canada
We fund research to understand how Arctic wildlife is faring as the climate changes.
© Brian Abeling / CC BY ND
We’re advocating for a full switch to renewable energy and working to protect the Arctic habitats that will be most resilient to change.
© WWF-Denmark
We support patrols around the Arctic to keep people and polar bears safe from conflict.

How we work

A quieter ocean for Arctic whales

Whales depend on sound to survive. WWF is working to limit sound pollution in Arctic waters by making parts of the ocean important for whales off limits to particularly loud industrial activities.

Addressing human-wildlife conflict

WWF's global work to reduce human-wildlife conflict is based in our Netherlands office.

Addressing offshore drilling

For more than a decade, WWF has worked to stop offshore oil and gas development that threatens the wildlife and local communities that thrive in the Arctic’s often brutal environment.

Conserving walrus

WWF has produced the first-ever report on the circumpolar conservation status of walrus.

Getting a new look at bowheads

WWF supported a project to collect rare drone footage of bowhead, one of Canada’s largest and longest-lived marine mammals.

Helping highly endangered seals

As Finland's climate warms, the country is seeing less snow cover. WWF is helping the extremely endangered Saimaa ringed sealsfind suitable places to nest by creating man-made snow banks.

Innovating in polar bear research

WWF catalyzes innovation. From extracting DNA from snowy pawprints to supporting tests of infrared camera systems for counting polar bears, WWF works to increase efficiency, reliability, and cost effectiveness of Arctic research.

Monitoring reindeer poaching in Russia

WWF-Russia supports anti-poaching raids and improved population monitoring to map reindeer migration routes and likely poaching hotspots

Preventing polar bear conflict in Canada

In the community of Arviat, WWF supports a polar bear patrol and pilot projects with food storage containers, solar-powered electric fencing and diversionary feeding stations.

Preventing polar bear conflict in Greenland

Since 2015, Greenland’s first polar bear patrol has worked through the polar bear migration season to keep the community of Ittoqqortoormiit safe. Each morning the polar team patrols the community on ATVs, using deterrence measures to frighten bears away. WWF also guides the community and government on improving polar bear safety.

Promoting sustainable quotas

In Greenland, WWF advocates for sustainable hunting quotas to ensure healthy fish and wildlife populations.

Protecting America's fishbasket

WWF is working with partners to protect Bristol Bay’s unmatched salmon runs and biodiversity through science and advocacy.

Protecting polar bears across borders

WWF addresses conservation of polar bears at the local, national, and international levels. We support community initiatives such as polar bear patrols and contribute to planning and implementing range-wide conservation plans.

Re-establishing the Arctic fox

In the 19th century, Arctic foxes were a common sight in Norway and Sweden, but they were nearly exterminated by overhunting. WWF-Sweden is supporting work to grow and stabilize the Swedish Arctic fox population.

Recommending action for walruses

The first circumpolar report on walrus conservation recommends research into the effects of industrial activities on the Arctic animals.

Reducing polar bear conflict in Alaska

Along the northern coast of Alaska, WWF supports several active polar bear patrols and education programs.

Reducing polar bear conflict on Svalbard,Norway

Svalbard is a hotspot for polar bear tourism - and conflict. The local government is working with organizations like WWF, scientists and the tourist sector to find the best methods for managing conflict.

Solving a walrus mystery

A WWF expedition in 2013 collected DNA samples from the walruses of the Laptev Sea to determine their relationship to other subspecies.

Supporting local voices on caribou in Canada

Working with northern communities in the Arctic by providing resources and expertise to ensure that community viewpoints on conservation issues are heard in decision-making processes impacting caribou habitat.

Supporting polar bear research on Svalbard

WWF is supporting Norwegian scientists on Svalbard who are researching the local polar bear population.

Supporting reindeer herders

WWF is working with Saami to explore ways of reducing future cumulative impacts of different pressures (like mining, wind power, forestry, tourism and large carnivores) on reindeer herding in Sweden.

Surveying polar bears in Western Hudson Bay

WWF supports polar bear surveys using an innovative mark-recapture technique that does not require tranquilising the bears.

Tools for mariners

WWF has created maps and posters for Canadian ships in the Arctic to help mariners identify and avoid marine mammals.

Tracking bowheads

WWF supports the work of the Norwegian Polar Institute, which is tracking rare bowhead whales near Svalbard.

Understanding narwhals

WWF supports a multi-partner research project with local Inuit communities, fitting satellite radio-transmitters to narwhals to investigate seasonal movements, key staging and wintering habitats, dive depths and diets.


The Circle 01.2022
The Circle 01.2022
17 January 2022
The Circle 03.21
The Circle 03.21
30 September 2021
The Circle 02.21
The Circle 02.21
21 June 2021
ArcNet Technical Report
ArcNet Technical Report
11 May 2021
The Circle 01.21
The Circle 01.21
8 April 2021
The Circle 04.20
The Circle 04.20
12 January 2021
See all 37 publications

Meet the team


Senior Advisor, Arctic and marine


Chief Advisor, Polar Regions, WWF-UK


Project Coordinator


Advisor, Nature Conservation – WWF Netherlands


Managing Director, Species Conservation Program


Senior Program Officer, Arctic Wildlife


Senior specialist, Arctic species & ecosystems

WWF Arctic Coordinating Team

Senior Specialist, Arctic species


Unit Head, Forests & Wildlife – WWF-Netherlands


Coordinator, Arctic Biodiversity Conservation Projects