Scientists call for polar bear census
© Courtesy of the Marine Heritage: Studying and Preserving Association expedition

Scientists call for polar bear census

Russian scientists have suggested conducting a comprehensive international survey to help save the polar bear population in the Arctic, Maria Gavrilo, Deputy Director for Research at the Russian Arctic National Park, told TASS news agency. Current research makes it impossible to accurately gauge the size of the polar bear population.

"It's very hard to collect information on the polar bear population in the Arctic. We see some Arctic predators each year, we conduct regular observations, but we have not recorded the population so far," she said.

Researchers believe that it is necessary to involve all the Arctic countries in a large-scale polar bear survey because of these predators' trans-border migration routes, Gavrilo added.

Although there are plans to discuss and review the issue in 2017, no real budget has been formed, Gavrilo told TASS.

"Russia and Norway tried to cooperate on a polar bear census in 2015, with the Norwegians setting aside funding. But the Russian authorities didn't authorize it. The problem is that Franz Josef Land has no port where a Norwegian research vessel can dock," Gavrilo explained.

Norwegian experts have already calculated their country's polar bear population. "The data is now being processed, and complicated mathematical calculations are being made. We have failed to conduct similar research for the lack of funding," she added.

She believes that polar bear censuses should be conducted every five years. The last census took place in August 2004, estimating the polar bear population at 3,000.