POLAR BEAR DIES WHILE BEING ‘TAGGED’: Researchers were fitting bear with monitoring device commonly used to track species’ population Svalbard; governor investigating death

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A polar bear being “tagged” for observation by researchers in north Svalbard died on Wednesday, according to The Governor of Svalbard. The cause is under investigation.

taggedbeardies
Wijdefjord, in the northern part of Svalbard, is the site when a polar bear died while being fitted with monitoring equipment by researchers. Satellite image by Google Maps.

The researchers tranquilized and were fitting the bear with an observation marker in Wijdefjord, part of a routine effort to track the population of the species in Svalbard, a statement issued by the governor Thursday states. An autopsy Thursday afternoon revealed the bear was a two-and-a-half-year-old male that weighed 144 kilograms.

“We have routinely opened a case on the incident,” Lt. Gov. Sølvi Elvedahl said.

The male bear that died was within the normal weight for its age, Morten Wedege, the governor’s environmental advisor, told Svalbardposten. Cubs typically follow their mother until they are are about two-and-a-half years old, so it likely died during its first months alone.

Polar bears are routinely sedated for research purposes and to remove them when they pose a danger to settlements. But, while less controversial than shooting bears that pose a threat, such actions have also proved fatal such as when a bear lurking near Longyearbyen in January tranquilized for removal died during the helicopter flight.

Jon Aars, a polar bear expert at the polar institute who did not participate in the operation, said at the time such deaths are always an unlikely possibility due to a number of factors involving the individual animal and circumstances.

“It will always be a risk to be immobilized, but it usually works out well,” he said. “Stunning and moving polar bears is a risk in itself, and then unforeseen things can happen.”

About Post Author

Mark Sabbatini

I'm a professional transient living on a tiny Norwegian island next door to the North Pole, where once a week (or thereabouts) I pollute our extreme and pristine environment with paper fishwrappers decorated with seemingly random letters that would cause a thousand monkeys with a thousand typewriters to die of humiliation. Such is the wisdom one acquires after more than 25 years in the world's second-least-respected occupation, much of it roaming the seven continents in search of jazz, unrecognizable street food and escorts I f****d with by insisting they give me the platonic tours of their cities promised in their ads. But it turns out this tiny group of islands known as Svalbard is my True Love and, generous contributions from you willing, I'll keep littering until they dig my body out when my climate-change-deformed apartment collapses or they exile my penniless ass because I'm not even worthy of washing your dirty dishes.
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