Alaska Science Center
Grizzly bears and polar bears are important species for subsistence communities along the Beaufort Sea coast for food, fur, and cultural significance. Much of our current knowledge about bear populations, habitat use, movements, and interactions with oil and gas activities on the Alaska northern coast (North Slope) has been the result of repeated captures of tagged individuals. Application of existing and emerging Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology, currently used for military and commerce, has the potential to significantly increase the sample size of marked bears by decreasing the cost of recapturing bears. An RFID system contains two major components: tags and a reader. The goal is to adapt the RFID system and test its feasibility for wildlife research and management by modifying the tags so they can be attached to bear ears and by modifying the reader for use in aircraft and land vehicles. Testing the RFID system began with tag deployment in 2005 for the Oilfield Grizzly Bear Project. RFID tags were deployed on polar bears in spring 2006.