Body Condition Project

How fat is that bear?

Armed with cameras, our field researchers have launched a pilot program to gather information on the body condition of polar bears during the Western Hudson Bay migration each fall. Scientists use a combination of visual assessment and digital photographic measurements to assess the bears.

"Over multiple years, such records will help to communicate the undergoing changes taking place in polar bear condition,” says Dr. Merav Ben-David of the University of Wyoming, who is working with PBI on the study. “This is especially important in situations with a shifting baseline, where year to year differences may be hard to see, but are quite dramatic when viewed over time."

Western Hudson Bay is the perfect place to test new methods, due to the long-term data on bears in the region. If successful, this project will help scientists obtain baseline condition data on bears in areas that currently lack any formal monitoring.

The project was conceived by our chief scientist, Dr. Steven C. Amstrup, and is being conducted in cooperation with the University of Wyoming and Purdue University.

Our thanks to Banrock StationNorth Carolina Zoo, and The Body Shop Foundation for funding this study.