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Home* News and Stories → Male polar bear inju­red by sci­en­ti­fic col­lar

Male polar bear inju­red by sci­en­ti­fic col­lar

Every year, a lar­ge num­ber of polar bears is seda­ted and mar­ked by sci­en­tists in various parts of the Arc­tic. Sam­ples are taken and some of the bears are equip­ped with col­lars that have satel­li­te trans­mit­ters to fol­low their jour­neys. This is usual­ly only done with fema­le polar bears, as the males have a neck too strong and thick to mount the col­lars, which would be lost quick­ly or hurt the bear and even cau­se dif­fi­cul­ties while swal­lowing food and breat­hing. It has so far been com­mon­ly assu­med in public that only fema­le polar bears are mar­ked this way and col­lars are gene­ral­ly not atta­ched to male polar bears.

As it tur­ned out recent­ly, rea­li­ty may be dif­fe­rent, pos­si­b­ly alrea­dy for years. Near Kak­ti­vik in Alas­ka, on the coast of the arc­tic Beau­fort Sea, a male polar bear wea­ring a col­lar has been seen and pho­to­gra­phed. The col­lar is cut­ting into the skin, causing visi­ble inju­ry and most likely pain.

It is belie­ved that the bear has been seda­ted and mar­ked by sci­en­tists in Cana­da. it is said that male polar bears have been equip­ped with col­lars alrea­dy for some time on an expe­ri­men­tal basis. The col­lars are sup­po­sed to drop off auto­ma­ti­cal­ly after a while, which may be half a year. It is pos­si­ble that this does not always work in time. It is also pos­si­ble, actual­ly qui­te likely, that polar bears can put on a lot of weight in short time when they have access to lar­ge amounts of food, for examp­le when a dead wha­le is stran­ded on the beach. On the arc­tic coasts of Cana­da and Alas­ka, polar bears some­ti­mes find wha­le car­cas­ses from indi­ge­nous hun­ting near Inu­it sett­le­ments. This is unpre­dic­ta­ble, accord­ing to rele­vant aut­ho­ri­ties. The­se events do inde­ed not occur on regu­lar inter­vals, but they are well known and not rare, so they have to be expec­ted and accoun­ted for at any time.

In the USA inclu­ding Alas­ka, the United Sta­tes Fish & Wild­life Ser­vices (USFWS) is the aut­ho­ri­ty respon­si­ble for mana­ging and pro­tec­ting mari­ne wild­life inclu­ding polar bears. Accord­ing to the USFWS, the polar bear is moni­to­red, but resour­ces are not avail­ab­le to help it. May­be moti­va­ti­on to take action is limi­ted as the bear recei­ved the col­lar most likely in Cana­da.

The actu­al case seems to have been known local­ly alrea­dy for mon­ths and it is now get­ting public atten­ti­on. Inte­res­ted indi­vi­du­als are approa­ching the USFWS, adding pres­su­re to help the bear and release it from the col­lar. More about the pre­sent dis­cus­sion, inclu­ding con­ta­ct details of rele­vant aut­ho­ri­ties, on the Face­book-page Pro­tect the Polar Bear. Mor­ten Jør­gen­sen from Den­mark has taken initia­ti­ve. Mor­ten is also the aut­hor of the book Polar Bears on the edge, whe­re sci­en­ti­fic tre­at­ment of polar bears is dis­cus­sed cri­ti­cal­ly.

Sci­en­ti­fic seda­ti­on, exami­na­ti­on and mar­king of polar bears is gene­ral­ly a trau­ma­tic event for the ani­mals con­cer­ned, not to men­ti­on cases whe­re fema­le bears with cubs are trea­ted this way. See also news posts Polar bear dead after ana­es­the­ti­sa­ti­on by sci­en­tists (II) and Polar bear found dead in Petu­nia­buk­ta had been ana­es­the­ti­sed for sci­en­ti­fic pur­po­ses on this web­site.

Orga­niz­a­ti­ons such as WWF and Polar Bears Inter­na­tio­nal are sup­por­ting sci­en­ti­fic work on polar bears inclu­ding satel­li­te col­lars. The dis­cus­sion about risks of this work is not new, but has not reached the gene­ral public yet.

Male polar bear in Alas­ka, equip­ped with and inju­red by a sci­en­ti­fic col­lar with satel­li­te trans­mit­ter. Nor­mal­ly, only fema­le polar bears recei­ve such col­lars.

Male polar bear with collar and injuries

Source: Infor­ma­ti­on from Mor­ten Jør­gen­sen / Face­book-page Pro­tect the Polar Bear

By the way, my new book is in print and it can now be orde­red 🙂 it is a pho­to book with the tit­le “Nor­we­gens ark­ti­scher Nor­den (1): Spitz­ber­gen – vom Polar­licht bis zur Mit­ter­nachts­son­ne”, with Ger­man text Click here for fur­ther details!

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last modification: 2015-10-26 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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