Since 1991, Durner has worked as a research zoologist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Alaska Science Center tracking and studying polar bears.
Polar bears are the largest of the living bear species, with a range spanning Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Norway and Russia. In recent years, climate change, pollution, development and over-harvest have taken their toll on wild populations.
Polar bears spend a good portion of their life traversing sea ice to hunt. But a warming climate is melting that critical ice at an alarming rate, forcing polar bears ashore and cutting their hunting season short.
In 2008, polar bears were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act—largely in part to Durner’s research. Durner and a team of USGS scientists are part of a polar bear research program, working to identify how the changing ecosystem has impacted polar bears in the Arctic. Their focus is on understanding how the bears’ habits will change in response to declining sea ice.
To learn more about Durner’s work with the Alaska Science Center’s polar bear research program, click here.