Polar bear management in Alaska 1997-2000

Occasional Papers of the IUCN Species Survival Comission (SSC) 26
By: , and 
Edited by: Nicholas J. LunnScott L. Schliebe, and Erik W. Born
Compiled by: Nicholas J. LunnScott L. Schliebe, and Erik W. Born



Since the Twelfth Working Meeting of the IUCN/SSC Polar Bear Specialist Group in 1997, a number of changes in the management of polar bears have occurred in Alaska. On October 16, 2000, the governments of the United States and the Russian Federation signed the “Agreement on the Conservation and Management of the Alaska-Chukotka Polar Bear Population.” This agreement provides substantial benefits for the effective conservation of polar bears shared between the U.S. and Russia. It will require enactment of enabling legislation by the U.S. Congress and other steps by Russia before the agreement has the force of law. A copy of the agreement is included as Appendix 1 to this report. Also, during this period, regulations were developed to implement 1994 amendments to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), which allow polar bear trophies taken in approved Canadian populations by U.S. citizens to be imported into the U.S. A summary of the regulatory actions and a table listing populations approved for importation and the number of polar bears imported into the U.S. since 1997 is included in this report. Regarding oil and gas activities in polar bear habitat, three sets of regulations were published authorizing the incidental, non-intentional, taking of small numbers of polar bears concurrent to oil and gas activities.

Cooperation continued with the Alaska Nanuuq Commission, representing the polar bear hunting communities in Alaska, as well as with the North Slope Borough and the Inuvialuit Game Council in their agreement for the management of the Southern Beaufort Sea polar bear population. Harvest summaries and technical assistance in designing and assistance in conducting a National Park Service/Alaska Nanuuq Commission study to collect traditional ecological knowledge of polar bear habitat use in Chukotka were provided. In addition, a long-range plan was developed to address and minimize polar bear-human conflicts in North Slope communities.

We continued to monitor the harvest of polar bears in Alaska and collect and analyze specimens for presence and level of organochlorine compounds and trace elements. A paper on genetic assessment of hunter reported sex of harvested bears was recently published (Schliebe et al. 1999). Population status and trend assessment efforts continued. An aerial survey of polar bears in the Eastern Chukchi Sea and western portions of the Southern Beaufort Sea was conducted from the U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker “Polar Star” in August 2000. The first year of a multi-year survey of barrier islands and coastlines during the open water and freeze-up phase was conducted in the central Southern Beaufort Sea during fall 2000.

Additional publication details

Publication type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Title Polar bear management in Alaska 1997-2000
Series title Occasional Papers of the IUCN Species Survival Comission (SSC)
Series number 26
ISBN 2-8317-0663-7
Year Published 2002
Language English
Publisher IUCN
Publisher location Gland, Switzerland
Contributing office(s) Alaska Science Center
Description 11 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Conference publication
Larger Work Title Polar bears: Proceedings of the 13th Working meeting of the IUCN/SSC Polar Bear Specialist Group, 23-28 June 2001, Nuuk, Greenland (Occasional Paper of the IUCN Species Survival Comission (SSC) no. 26)
First page 89
Last page 99
Conference Title 13th Working Meeting of the IUCN/SSC Polar Bear Specialist Group
Conference Location Nuuk, Greenland, Denmark
Conference Date June 23-28, 2001
Country United States
State Alaska
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