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U.S.-Russia Polar Bear Commission Meets in Anchorage

The second meeting of the U.S.-Russia Polar Bear Commission was held from
June 7-9 in Anchorage, Alaska. The group, which consists of representatives
from the United States and Russia representing federal, state, and Native
interests, first met in Moscow in September of 2009.  This meeting follows
on the heels of the first annual meeting of the Commission's Scientific
Working Group, held in Anchorage from March 1st through the 5th of this
year. The Scientific Working Group was formed to assist the Commission in
resolving questions pertaining to the protection and management of the
Alaska-Chukotka Polar Bear Population.

The goal of the Commission at this meeting was to determine the potential
for a coordinated and sustainable subsistence harvest of polar bears in
both the U.S. and Russia. The Commission determined that harvest by Native
peoples of Alaska and Chukotka should be limited to up to 19 female and 39
male polar bears per year from the Chukchi and Bering Seas for traditional
and cultural purposes. This level of harvest was identified as conservative
by polar bear experts and will be re-evaluated periodically based on
scientific studies. In Chukotka, Russia, legal harvest will begin when
monitoring and enforcement systems are in place. This will end a 50-year
ban on polar bear harvest and is expected to improve monitoring and reduce
poaching.

In Alaska, a team led by representatives of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service and the Alaska Nanuuq Commission was charged with developing
procedures to implement the Commission's decision and to present it to the
Commission at its next regular meeting in 2011. Establishment of
sustainable harvest limits in Alaska will help protect polar bears for
future generations. The Commission's decisions at the recent Anchorage
meeting are based on the authority of a Bilateral Treaty for the
conservation and management of polar bears, signed by the United States of
America and the Russian Federation on October 16, 2000. Polar Bear
Commissioner Geoffrey Haskett, of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's
Alaska Region, called these developments a landmark in cooperative wildlife
management between governmental and Native representatives of the U.S. and
Russia.

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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