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Proposed Polar Bear Deterrence Guidelines Published

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) today announced proposed
deterrence guidelines that may be safely used to deter a polar bear without
seriously injuring or causing the death of the animal. The deterrence
guidelines would, if approved, be voluntary and are intended to reduce
occurrences of interactions between bears and humans in manners safe for
both. They provide clear guidance for minimizing incidental encounters with
polar bears, but will not change the legal status quo for any activities in
Alaska.

The proposed deterrence guidelines include 2 levels:

(1) Passive deterrence measures – these are measures intended to prevent
polar bears from gaining access to property or people. They include:
(i) Rigid fencing and other fixed barriers such as gates and fence
skirting.
(ii) Bear exclusion cages, which provide a protective shelter for
people.
(iii) Bear-proof garbage containers to exclude bears from accessing
garbage as a food.

(2) Preventive deterrence measures – these are measures intended to
dissuade a polar bear from initiating an interaction with property or
people. These are:
(i) Acoustic devices that create an auditory disturbance.
(ii) Vehicle or boat deterrence, e.g. patrolling the periphery of an
area.

In proposing these guidelines the Service is mindful of the inherent risks
to humans associated with the act of deterring a large carnivore such as
the polar bear, as well the MMPA’s intent that acceptable acts of
deterrence are those that safely deter but do not result in death or
serious injury. Therefore, these guidelines are benign in nature. While
some parties may believe they do not go far enough, we do not believe more
active deterrence measures are appropriate for these guidelines.

Independent of these proposed deterrence guidelines, and under a separate
provision of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Service does authorize
active hazing measures that may be taken to stop bear activity patterns or
to remove an individual animal from areas of human populations or work
environs. In addition, the lethal taking of a polar bear in defense of life
(but not property) is an exempted action under the MMPA.

The proposed deterrence guidelines would serve to complement such
authorized activities and not supersede them.

The Federal Register notice detailing these proposed guidelines will be
published on April 26. We will consider comments on the proposed guidelines
that are received on or before May 26, 2010. You may submit comments by one
of the following methods:

U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket
No. FWS-R7-FHC-2010-0002; Division of Policy and Directives
Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive,
Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203; Attention: Polar Bear Deterrence
Guidelines; or
Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the
instructions for submitting comments to Docket No.
FWS-R7-FHC-2010-0002.

We will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov. This generally
means that we will post any personal information you provide us.

For further information, contact Bruce Woods at the number above, or
Charles S. Hamilton, Office of Marine Mammals Management, U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service, 1011 East Tudor Road, Anchorage, AK 99503, telephone
907–786–3800 or 1–800–362–5148. Persons who use a telecommunications device
for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at
1–800–877–8339, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to
conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for
the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and
trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific
excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated
professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our
work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

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