Today is International Bear Day

Today is International Bear Day

13 December 2021

For our country, International Bear Day is a special holiday, as seven species of this predator live in Russia. The endangered polar bear is of special importance.


Since 2009, Russian Arctic National Park has been studying polar bears on Novaya Zemlya and the Franz Josef Land archipelago. Specialists from the national park and the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences use satellite tagging to receive information about the habitats, movement and feeding habits of the predator.


This year, under several programmes – Umka 2021, the Clean Seas Fund’s Master of the Arctic 2021, and Rosneft’s project – the staff of the Institute of Ecology and Evolution continued to study the polar bears in the national park in April, June, and August-September. Nineteen adult polar bears of both sexes were caught and tagged; collars with satellite transmitters were put on seven females, the press service of Russian Arctic National Park reported.


“The results of the 2021 field season were the study of the distribution of polar bear dens on Alexandra Land Island, information on the movement of females of the Kara-Barents Sea population from Spitsbergen to Severnaya Zemlya, new data on the migration of females in the summer in the north of Novaya Zemlya, and the location of places where polar bears congregate on Franz Josef Land,” said Ivan Mizin, deputy director of Russian Arctic National Park.


Franz Josef Land, like Wrangel Island, is considered a “maternity hospital” for polar bears. The numerous islands of the archipelago, surrounded by ice even in summer, are abundant in bird colonies, seal haul-outs and walrus rookeries, and make an ideal habitat for these polar predators.


“Studying the current range of the polar bear population, collecting information on the movements of these animals within the boundaries of their geographic population, and analysing habitat changes amid current global climate changes in Russian Arctic National Park are long-term tasks. Only by collecting annual data over time can zoologists draw conclusions about the current state of the population,” said Alexander Kirilov, director of Russian Arctic National Park.


In 2021, a documentary film called Medvezy Ugol (The Polar Bear’s Corner) directed by Maxim Pervakov, was filmed in Russian Arctic National Park. The filming took place on Alexandra Land when zoologists from the Institute of Ecology and Evolution were working there.


(Photo © by Nikolai Gernet)