Russian researchers tag three polar bears during Arctic expedition

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RIA Novosti, original article here

Three female polar bears were tagged with satellite collars during a research expedition on the Franz Josef Land archipelago in Russia’s far north, the Russian environment watchdog said on Friday.

“The expedition found 40 polar bears,” the watchdog said, adding that the researchers had immobilized 12 bears, weighed them and taken blood and fur samples for genetic and biochemical tests.

A similar expedition was carried out in April 2010 involving Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. During the trip Putin put a satellite collar on a male polar bear, but the bear got rid of the tracking device six months later.

Satellite collars allow scientists to follow the migration of animals, observe their daily and seasonal movements and identify habitats.

According to environmentalists, the number of polar bears currently stands at 21,000 but in the next 50 years the population of the world’s largest predator may decline by 30-50%, especially in the Russian sector of the Arctic.

In July, the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology approved a strategy for polar bear preservation in Russia.

MOSCOW, December 3 (RIA Novosti)

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