With many schools closed around the globe, we’ve experienced a surge in demand for our Tundra Connections webcasts and educational content. Families sequestered at home are taking virtual field trips to the Arctic to learn about polar bears, the Arctic, and how they can get involved.
In response, we designed a two-month series of webcasts and live chats, including special Earth Day broadcasts with Discovery Education. Viewership of our videos and live programming topped 154,000 in April, and we’re now in the middle of our May series.
Just before the coronavirus shutdown canceled field projects across the Arctic, one of our research teams spent three weeks in Svalbard, Norway, where they took part in a maternal den study in partnership with the Norwegian Polar Institute and San Diego Zoo Global. The study involves placing remote cameras at den sites to record the activity of emerging moms and cubs.
In early spring, our senior director of conservation, Geoff York, joined colleagues from the Polar Bear Range States (Canada, Greenland, Russia, Norway, and the U.S.) for their bi-annual meeting, held this year in Longyearbyen, Norway. Delegates review progress on the International Agreement for the Conservation of Polar Bears, share findings, and work collaboratively on threats to polar bears.
A recent study by Dr. Tom Smith of Brigham Young University and three researchers from Polar Bears International found that current den-detection methods used by oil and gas companies to find and hence protect polar bear dens have been missing more than half of known dens. The findings have direct relevance to proposed oil and gas activity in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Have you taken our “Vote for Polar Bears, Vote for Climate” pledge? With more than 65 countries holding major elections this year, we’ve created a “Vote for Polar Bears” campaign that reminds voters of the importance of voting with the climate in mind, in each and every election, no matter how small. Together, we can choose leaders who understand and are prepared to address the climate crisis.
“I read that polar bears will sometimes approach another bear that’s eating a recent kill and ask to share it. How do they ask? And why would the other bear want to share its food instead of defending it?” Dr. Thea Bechshoft, one of our staff scientists, responds as part of her popular polar bear questions series.
The Washington Post published an in-depth article on the high failure rates of current polar bear den-detection methods, citing the recent research by Dr. Tom Smith and three Polar Bears International scientists. Other key publications covering the findings included The New York Times, the Associated Press, and Reuters.