Wildlife and environment
Polar bears
© RIA Novosti. Valeriy Melnikov

Bely Island believed to host polar bear maternity dens

Female polar bears appear to be making maternity dens on Bely Island on the Yamal Peninsula, according to initial studies of polar bear populations in the region, the Arctic-Info Agency reports. It remains unknown how many polar bears inhabit the island. Experts from the Russian Center for Arctic Research and other scientists hope to make an accurate count in the course of their field work.

Zoologists from the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences will come to Bely Island in August-September. They plan to sedate polar bears and fit them with satellite collars that will provide real-time data on the animals' movements, habitat and the locations of maternity dens.

In addition, scientists plan to take blood, fur and feces samples from the female bears, which will be used in molecular genetic studies and tests for various diseases caused by harmful environmental conditions.