Scientists Join Forces to Count Polar Bears

Norwegian and Russian scientists will – for the first time in a decade – join forces to count polar bears in the Russian part of the Arctic.

The census will be conducted in August next year, reports the Russian news agency Arctic-Info.

– The last census of polar bears was held in August 2004. Then, with a helicopter, scientists found animals living within Novaya Zemlya, Franz Josef land and the Chukchi-Alaskan Islands. Ten years ago, the population of polar bears numbered 3,000, Maria Gavrillo, the Deputy Director for Scientific Work of the Russian Arctic National Park, told TASS.

According to Gavrillo, polar bears are forced to hunt other animals – such as walruses – because the seals they traditionally feed on have migrated.

– It is not easy for Polar bears catch walruses due to their large size. They can only eat young or sick walruses. Because of the lengthy periods of hunger, the Russian Arctic predators are very slim, she says. The Situation is particularly difficult in the northern part of Novaya Zemlya.  

- In 10 years, polar bears could have died from hunger or migrated to other areas to hunt seals. We will be able to answer these questions after a census of the animals, says the assistant director of the National Park.

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