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Researchers: Tool used to detect polar bear dens ineffective

The USGS researchers used GPS collars with a camera, accelerometor and other scientific tools...
The USGS researchers used GPS collars with a camera, accelerometor and other scientific tools to track and analyze the bears' behaviors. (KTUU)
Published: Mar. 2, 2020 at 1:08 PM AKST
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Polar bear researchers in Alaska say a tool used by the petroleum industry to detect the dens of females giving birth to cubs is often ineffective.

Researcher Tom Smith of Brigham Young University says aerial infrared detection flights found fewer than half the dens eventually confirmed from the ground.

He says there's no evidence that cubs have been harmed but that the industry should develop technology that's more effective.

Patrick Bergt of the Alaska Oil and Gas Association says the industry uses a variety of tools to avoid disturbing polar bear dens.

He says personnel in polar bear habitat receive specialized training to identify signs of dens.

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