Polar Bear Predatory Behaviour toward Molting Barnacle Geese and Nesting Glaucous Gulls on Spitsbergen

  • Lech Stempniewicz
Keywords: polar bear, Ursus maritimus, barnacle goose, Branta leucopsis, glaucous gull, Larus hyperboreus, predation, Hornsund, SW Spitsbergen

Abstract

A polar bear (Ursus maritimus) was observed stalking and chasing a flock of adult flightless barnacle geese (Branta leucopsis) in a coastal bay in Hornsund, southwest Spitsbergen. Before chasing the geese, the polar bear appeared to make use of the cover provided by a rocky pier in order to swim close to them. Immediately after that unsuccessful attempt, the bear plundered a glaucous gull (Larus hyperboreus) nest situated on coastal rock and captured three nestlings. These observations are the first documented instances of a polar bear hunting for barnacle goose and glaucous gull and provide additional evidence of the use of terrestrial prey by polar bears during the season of minimal ice extent.

Published
2009-12-16