Alaska, Canada hope helicopter surveys reduce polar bear stress

April 4, 2012 

In this 2009 file photo, scientists measure the body fat of a drugged polar bear on the ice of the Arctic Ocean.

CRISTINA GALVAN / POLARTREC 2009

Scientists in Alaska, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories are hoping that counting polar bears in the southern Beaufort Sea by helicopter will be easier on them than trapping, drugging and tagging them, reports CBC News. The bears may already be stressed by declining sea ice.

For the last week, scientists have been using the helicopters to scan the area to see if it's a viable way to estimate the bears' population. This method has not been used before for polar bear population counts. ...

"[It is] going to take a lot of effort if we decide to go this way. But it if it will work, it will be less handling on the bears, less stressful on the bears, and you should be able to do it in one year - do a lot of work and come up with a population estimate that year," said Marsha Branigan, the manager of Wildlife Management for the Inuvik Region.

Read more at CBC News.

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