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Polar bears and nesting barnacle geese


My colleague Jouke Prop has been studying a Barnacle Goose colony on Nordenskiøldkysten since the early seventies. The focus of his study has changed from geese to polar bears as there is an increasing amount of bears visiting the breeding colony. On this page I have collected various contributions of his fieldwork. His movies show stunning details of polar bear behaviour. You can view his channel http://www.youtube.com/joukeprop and take a subscription on email alerts for new additions.
  Polar bear impact on Barnacle Geese

Throughout their range, polar bears make increasingly use of alternative food sources. Bird eggs, for example, may be a substitute when the preferred prey (seals) is not available. The impact of polar bears on the breeding success of colonial breeding birds can be huge. In a colony of barnacle geese on West-Spitsbergen, Svalbard, only few nests escape the raids of the bears.
Safer research in polar bear areas

Polar bears are known to destroy huts or tents in search for food. In polar bear areas, camps need therefore a good protection to keep hungry bears out. Our study site in Spitsbergen is frequented by polar bears in summer. Over the past years we have favourable experience with electric fences surrounding our tents. This video shows how polar bears respond to the protected camp: (1) curious without further interest (as occurs most often), (2) coming close to the electric fence without touching, and (3) touching the fence when attempting to enter the enclosure. For adequate protection, the electric fence should be used in combination with other means to detect and scare polar bears.
Polar bear playing with seeweed

Polar bears were not our best friends when they came to spoil our bird studies. Nonetheless, they are impressive animals and exciting to watch. We forgot about bad feelings when observing this old male playing in the water and using kelp as rubber duckie.
Polar bear in barnacle goose colony

A polar bear is about to depredate nests of barnacle geese and eiders in a colony at the west coast of Spitsbergen/Svalbard
Polar bears on Spitsbergen love goose eggs

More and more, while studying geese on Spitsbergen (Nordenskiøldkysten), we observe polar bears. Here you see how they pass our tent. The bears visit our study colony and love goose egss. Do the geese have to nest elsewhere?

In recent years, in Kongsfjorden, encounters with polar bears happen more often too. Below you see on overview of pages in our weblog.

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20080306, 20110814, 15:00 20120826, 15:45 all items shown with small pics
science of faeces polar bears and nesting barnacle geese projects 2012

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