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Movements and distribution of polar bears in the Beaufort sea

January 1, 2000

We fitted 173 satellite radio collars (platform transmitter terminals) to 121 adult female polar bears in the Beaufort Sea and relocated the bears 44 736 times between 1985 and 1995. We regularly resighted many instrumented bears so that we could ascertain whether changes in movements or distribution were related to reproductive status. Mean short-term movement rates were less than 2 km/h for all classes of bears. Maximum movement rates occurred in winter and early summer. In the southern Beaufort Sea (SBS), net geographic movements from the beginning to the end of each month were smaller for females with cubs of the year than for solitary females, and larger in November than in April, May, or July. In May, June, July, and August, radio-collared bears in the SBS moved north. They moved south in October. In the northern Beaufort Sea (NBS), bears moved north in June and south in March and September. Total annual movements ranged from 1406 to 6203 km. Mean total distances moved each month ranged from 79 to 420 km. Total monthly movements by SBS bears were largest in early winter and smallest in early spring. In the NBS, movements were largest in summer and smallest in winter. In the SBS, females with cubs moved less each month than other females. Annual activity areas ranged from 7264 to 596 800 km2. Monthly activity areas ranged from 88 to 9760 km2. Seasonal fidelity to activity areas of bears captured in all parts of the Beaufort Sea was strongest in summer and weakest in spring.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2000
Title Movements and distribution of polar bears in the Beaufort sea
DOI 10.1139/z00-016
Authors Steven C. Amstrup, George M. Durner, I. Stirling, N.J. Lunn, F. Messier
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Canadian Journal of Zoology
Series Number
Index ID 70023102
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Alaska Biological Science Center