Researcher talks about plans for expeditions to study polar bears this year

Researcher talks about plans for expeditions to study polar bears this year

1 March 2021

On 27 February, the world celebrated International Polar Bear Day. The holiday was established in 2000 and aims to draw attention to the problem of conserving the Arctic predator. Ilya Mordvintsev, leading researcher at the Institute of Ecology and Evolution at the Russian Academy of Sciences, spoke about how the new bear year will go for scientists and what plans there are for studying this species.


“We already have an expedition schedule for the whole year. During the first expedition, we plan to study the period when females leave their dens. This is a continuation of our work on Franz Josef Land and on Alexandra Island together with the Russian Arctic National Park,” the specialist noted.


According to Mordvintsev, the departure to Alexandra Land is scheduled for April.


“In order not to disturb the females in their dens, at the first stage of work we will only examine the territory and try to determine the potential habitat of the animals,” Ilya Mordvintsev emphasised.


The expedition is going to be quite long – more than a month, because the scientists plan not only to see where the females have been wintering, but also to wait for the females to leave their dens.


“When the cubs are ready for a long journey and their mothers take them away from the dens, we plan to catch and mark the females with collars in order to monitor the further behaviour of groups,” the expert said.


According to Mordvintsev, we have already had such an experience – in 2018 and 2019, similar studies were carried out and yielded a lot of useful information precisely on how different family groups behave, where they prefer to hunt, where they go and what distances they cover in a certain period of time.


“All these questions remain acute, we should gain more knowledge about how the animals behave during this period,” said Mordvintsev.


The scientist said that there are also plans to expand activities in the eastern sector of the Arctic. “We really want to work on the coast of Chukotka. But it will depend on how financially prepared we are for this, because this is a costly project and Chukotka is the most interesting and “prolific” area for polar bears and it is of great interest to us,” said Ilya Mordvintsev in conclusion.