A Russian-U.S. commission last year agreed to restrict polar bear hunting to 29 animals per year for each country. But Russia's polar bear program, established under Putin's patronage, said this week that no hunting would be allowed in Russia.
Although the polar bear is an endangered animal, officials in Russia and the U.S. have said hunting is vital for the indigenous people in Alaska and the Russian region across the Bering Strait.
Putin, Russia's prime minister, last year helped scientists put a tracking collar on a sedated polar bear, affectionately patting the animal before he left. He also has championed the causes of endangered tigers and leopards.