Arctic

Polar Bear Research Expedition

7 May 2018
Search and excavation of the den. Picture: Ivan Mizin.

Polar Bear Research Expedition was completed in the “Russian Arctic”

The joint polar bear research expedition of Russian Arctic National Park and A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution was completed on Franz Josef Land archipelago.
This expedition is of a high significance: such ground-based scientific observations, including polar bear tagging, were conducted during spring period for the first time since 1981!
Employees of the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution hav e already carried out polar bear research. It was conducted in 2011-2012 and was also connected to tagging female species with collars with satellite transmitters and assessing habitat selection. However, the work was performed in other seasons of the year. This year, with the help of the Barents-division of the World Wide Fund for Nature it became possible to organize an expedition during the most interesting and important period of life of the “Kings of the Arctic”. April is the month when female polar bears are coming out of their dens with newly born cubs, it is the time when scientists can get valuable and full-scale data about life and current state of polar bears which inhabit Russian Arctic National Park.
With the help of temporary immobilization of animals, collection of samples of biological material and installation of both collar-transmitters and individual ear tags have been carried out. According to the permission of Rosprirodnadzor (Federal Service for Supervision of Natural Resource Usage), the total number of tagged animals is 10: 7 females with cubs, a single adult female and two adult males. Four females were fitted with collar-transmitters. In total, expedition members found 29 polar bears (15 adults and 14 cubs) and 8 dens during 4 weeks of daily trips around the island.