Spring Trail-2014 nearing completion

Spring Trail-2014 nearing completion

18 April 2014

This year the traditional Spring Trail expedition was conducted from 20 March to 20 April 2014. Four Bear Patrol expedition teams studied different sections of the Arctic coast and islands from the estuary of the Indigirka River in Yakutia to the Bering Strait off Chukotka. Information about sightings of polar bears, their tracks and dens was also sent by the project’s supervisors from northern settlements and polar weather stations.


The spring distribution of polar bears on the coast changes every year depending on ice conditions in late autumn and early winter and access to food. This year there were very few tracks in the Indigirka River area, but patrollers found nine dens on the Medvezhyi Islands Archipelago. One den was discovered about 60 km from the coast in the Chukotka tundra.


Observers encountered a group of 17 polar bears on the coast of the Chukchi Sea. They were gathered around the carcass of a grey whale that had washed up on the coast last autumn.


Head of the WWF Russian Bear Patrol Viktor Nikiforov said: “This spring was filled with strong winds and cold spells, which made our work more difficult. In early spring polar bears are concentrated on the Chukotka coast where they can find food. We are planning to conduct a helicopter survey in the southern part of the Barents Sea in cooperation with our partners from the Marine Mammal Council in late April. No special studies of polar bears have been undertaken on this territory.”


(Photos © Maxim Deminov, Ruslan Sleptsov)