Original Paper

Polar Biology

, Volume 26, Issue 8, pp 509-516

Movements of female polar bears (Ursus maritimus) in the East Greenland pack ice

  • Øystein WiigAffiliated withNorwegian Polar InstituteZoological Museum, Natural History Museums and Botanical Garden, University of Oslo Email author 
  • , Erik W. BornAffiliated withGreenland Institute of Natural Resources
  • , Leif Toudal PedersenAffiliated withDanish Center for Remote Sensing, Technical University of Denmark

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The movements of two adult female polar bears (Ursus maritimus) in East Greenland and the Greenland Sea area were studied by use of satellite telemetry between the fall of 1994 and the summer of 1998. One female was tracked for 621 days, the other for 1,415 days. During this time the females used maternity dens on land. If denning periods on land were excluded, the two females used between 73% and 100% of the tracking time offshore where they were able to navigate in the dynamic pack ice and counteract the fast southward movement of the ice (up to 30 km/h) in the East Greenland Current. Mean monthly movement rates varied between 0.32 and 0.76km/h. Both bears had very large home ranges (242,000 and 468,000 km2) within the dynamic pack ice of the Greenland Sea. The facts that the bears made extensive use of the offshore sea ice and that there is a marked reduction of the Greenland Sea ice call for a closer monitoring of the effects of this change on the East Greenland polar bear population.