MOSCOW, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- An expedition to Russia's far north tagged three female polar bears to follow their migration, observe their movements and identify habitats, scientists said.
In addition to tagging the three bears, the expedition to the Franz Josef Land archipelago immobilized 12 bears to weigh them and take blood and fur samples for genetic and biological tests, RIA Novosti reported Friday.
In July, the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology approved a strategy for polar bear preservation in Russia.
Environmentalists estimate current polar bear population at 21,000 but say the numbers of the world's largest predator may decline by 30 to 50 percent in the next 50 years, especially in the Russian sector of the Arctic.
An expedition in April 2010 involved Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin putting a satellite collar on a male polar bear, but the bear got rid of the tracking device six months later, RIA Novosti said.