Most of Wrangel Island and Herald Island is a federally protected nature sanctuary administered by Russia's Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. The island and its surrounding waters were classified as a "Zapovednik" (a "strict nature reserve") in 1976 and, as such, receive the highest level of protection and exclude practically all human activity other than for scientific purposes. The Chukotka Regional government extended the marine protected area out to 24 nautical miles in 1999. As of 2003, there were four rangers who reside on the island year-round. In addition, a core group of about 12 scientists conduct research during the summer months.