Bear Census Gets Underway in Kamchatka
While the nationwide census is well underway, Kronetsky Nature Reserve and the Yuzhno-Kamchatsky Wildlife Refuge have undertaken to conduct their own census of brown bears.
PETROPAVLOVSK-KAMCHATSKY. October 21. VOSTOK-MEDIA – While the nationwide census is well underway, Kronetsky Nature Reserve and the Yuzhno-Kamchatsky Wildlife Refuge have undertaken to conduct their own census of… brown bears.
A spokesman for Kronetsky Nature Reserve said animal census workers have much in common with ordinary census takers: they, too, make their rounds on foot (also on SUVs and planes) to collect information from residents or, to put it more correctly, dwellers. The census workers prefer to keep a few steps away from lairs, dens, caves, crevices, hollow logs and other kinds of “households” not to disturb the brown bears. Scientists count animals scanning the areas through binoculars from distance – observation towers and beach terraces.
“The annual fall census of animals is conducted at open tundras that have lots of berries,” said Vladimir Maslov, the assistant manager of Kronitsky Nature Reserve. “The census data is usually taken along the spawning grounds of lakes and rivers. Once we counted 250 bears during a single round.”
It is by far easier to collect data on bears when the animals are feeding at berry grounds or on the river banks, the time when they pay little or no heed to census takers. The scientists keep logs and tally sheets to enter all encounters with bears, their sex, age, approximate weight and height, and the number of cubs, as the case may be. After taking census details, the researchers define the population density within each census area. Also, they give a distinctive moniker to each bear they encounter.
“We give them names not for fun,” said Vladimir Maslov. “It facilitates our work.”
Bear census takes place not only in fall, but also in late spring, when bears awake from hibernation. The best place for counting bears is the Valley of Geysers. Since the grass there grows earlier than in other areas the bears flock to the valley each spring, covering distances of up to 40 kilometers. It is a joyful event when we meet a new “unrecorded” bear there.
Preliminary census data shows there are about 720 bears in Kronitsky Nature Reserve, which is slightly more than in previous years. This is likely due to a fair yield of hazel, berries and sustainable availability of salmon in the river that flows through the nature reserve. The number of bears in Yuzhno-Kamchatsky Wildlife Refuge is about 1,000.
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