More than 150 polar bears were counted in the Yakut nature reserve "Bear Islands"
Source: Ministry of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation
The second stage of the polar bear census took place in the Bear Islands Nature Reserve in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia). Using the Orlan-10 long-range drones, scientists obtained more than 25 thousand high-resolution images. The Russian Ministry of Natural Resources reported this on its website.
“Such a number of images is time-consuming and difficult to process manually, so scientists used a specially trained neural network to count animals. Artificial intelligence produced a preliminary result - more than 150 polar bears. The exact number of individuals and distribution of polar bear populations throughout the reserve will be determined during subsequent office data processing,” the statement says.
The collected materials will also make it possible to make a preliminary assessment of accumulated environmental damage.
According to the head of the expedition, Ilya Chernook, which is cited in the message, at the moment there is not a single territory in the world where such research is being carried out.
After processing the images obtained during the expedition, scientists intend to create a cartographic portal for the reserve. In addition, it is planned to develop a five-year program of regular monitoring of territories using UAVs to assess population sizes and the consequences of anthropogenic impact.
“The census of animals on the territory of the Arctic Reserve “Bear Islands” is an important stage in the census of polar bears listed in the Red Book. In winter, scientists counted 864 predators on Wrangel Island. It is also planned to determine the population size in the area of Herald Island and the Wrangel sea area. These data will allow us to understand how many polar bears live in the Russian Arctic and plan measures to protect them,” the message quoted the head of the Ministry of Natural Resources, Alexander Kozlov, as saying.
As noted by the department, four subpopulations of polar bears live in the Russian Arctic and in adjacent areas - the Barents Sea, Kara, Laptev and Chukchi-Alaskan. However, current data on their numbers and condition are currently missing due to the large extent of the Arctic zone. The Barents Sea subpopulation was considered in 2004, the Chukotka-Alaska subpopulation in 2018, and the Laptev subpopulation back in 1990.
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