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    Wrangel Island: Russian Refuge

    By Hampton Sides
    June 18, 2013, 9:16:15 AM EDT

    All content for this article courtesy of the May issue of National Geographic. For full article and more photos, click here.


    The following is an excerpt from the May issue of National Geographic magazine:

    Wrangel Island was declared a zapovednik—a federally managed nature sanctuary—in 1976, and it remains one of Russia’s coldest, remotest pieces of protected wilderness. The 2,900-square-mile island lying astride the 180th meridian just might be the Galapagos of the far north: Despite the severity of its climate, and in many ways because of it, Wrangel boasts an astonishing abundance of life. The island is the world’s largest denning ground for polar bears—as many as 400 mothers have been known to land here in winter to raise their young. With climate change making the ice pack much less reliable, polar bears have often sought summertime refuge on the island in recent years as well. Wrangel also supports the largest population of Pacific walruses, and the only snow goose nesting colony in Asia. It is home to snowy owls, muskoxen, arctic foxes, and reindeer as well as massive populations of lemmings and seabirds. And yet, in merciful contrast to the boggy Siberian mainland, there are no mosquitoes.




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