Two female polar bears are collared in the Russian Arctic
Joint expedition of the “Russian Arctic" National Park and A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution has been working on the Arctic islands since the third of April. Scientists are studying the state of polar bears of the Kara-Barents Sea population. This work is a continuation of the monitoring program for polar bears in the western part of Franz Josef Land, started in 2010.
Using snowmobiles, scientists have already examined almost all the territory of Alexandra Land and found four dens: two are still occupied by bears with cubs and two were left. On fast ice in the bays of the island experts noted traces of other bears with cubs, as well as adult males and single females.
Experts of Severtsov Institute managed to immobilize two female bears, each of them had two cubs. Animals were immobilized with a special gun that shoots syringes with hypnotic. The animals were taken various biological tests to determine the possible impact of environmental pollution on the health of the population, and then satellite collars were installed on them. The condition of the animals was assessed as satisfactory. After the procedures bear families headed toward the nearest ice edge to hunt seals.
Ilya Mordvintsev, head of the scientific group, notes that the procedures are safe for animals: "This is the first time that the research is conducted on the island when females leave their dens. In this regard, the work is carried out on the basis of careful attitude to animals during this important for family groups time. Therefore, the entire tagging activity is carried out only taking into account the readiness of the bears with the cubs to long transitions in the ice."
The collars are transmitting signals already, which allows specialists to receive extremely valuable information in real time.
"For the national park polar bears population monitoring is one of the priorities" - says Ivan Mizin, deputy director for science at the “Russian Arctic” National Park. - Information on the movements of polar bears is used by inspectors to prevent conflicts with predators, and the collected data enriches polar bear knowledge base of the Park. It is gratifying that after five years the polar bears scientific research is again conducted on our territory and that the work is supported by the Barents Office of WWF Russia. "
"WWF Russia makes every effort to protect polar bear population in the Russian Arctic, says Oleg Sutkaitis, Head of WWF Russia Barents Office. - The primary task for scientists is to study the population in as much detail as possible. At the moment, neither the exact number of polar bears, nor the feeding and propagation sites are known. That is why the data obtained during the expedition and after the analysis of satellite signals will become a significant contribution to the work of Russian specialists and to the implementation of the circumpolar polar bear conservation action plan."
The expedition to Franz Josef Land will last until the end of April. Experts plan to mark at least three female bears and to track their movements and mobility during the next year. Such information will also be used to assess the possible process of adaptation of polar bears to climate change.