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Polar Bear Conservation Continues This Endangered Species Day

Endangered Species Day is particularly poignant today as we celebrate the 40
th Anniversary of the Endangered Species Act and recognize the Federal
agencies, state and local governments, nonprofit organizations, industry
representatives, and private citizens who have worked together under the
law to conserve America’s most imperiled species.

“In Alaska key partners have come together under the Endangered Species Act
to successfully recover the Aleutian Canada goose, the Arctic peregrine
falcon and the American peregrine falcon” said Geoffrey Haskett, Alaska’s
Regional Director. “These are all great success stories. The sobering
prospect of extinction motivates us to do all that we can nationally and
internationally to conserve remarkable Alaskan species like polar bear.”

Some of those partnerships have focused on better understanding a species
and its habitat with the goal of uncovering routes to recovery.  Since
listing the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act, both the Service
and United States Geological Survey (USGS) have increased efforts to
collect scientific information on the status and trends for polar bear
populations in Alaska and worldwide.  The Service recently completed our
fifth year of live-capture research in the Chukchi and Bering Seas, and
USGS continues over 30 years of research on the Southern Beaufort Sea
population.  The Service is partnering with the USGS to update sea ice
projections and climate models, and to develop population specific models
to help strategically prioritize conservation actions. This work greatly
enhances our understanding of polar bears and provides insight into
potential impacts due to loss of sea ice habitat, an understanding which
will be critical for conserving the species.

Other partnerships engage a wide group of stakeholders, who bring unique
insights and perspectives to our work identifying creative and effective
recovery options.  For example, we are reaching out to a diverse group of
stakeholders including State and local governments, Alaska Native
organizations, non-governmental organizations, development entities, and
concerned citizens to inform our draft polar bear Conservation Management
Plan.   We have held a series of public workshops and look forward to
additional input on future drafts.

Along with research and recovery planning, the ESA also engages partners in
on-the-ground conservation.  We accomplish this through a number of means –
consultation on proposed Federal actions, conservation efforts directed at
candidate species, etc.  Sometimes we draw on associated laws to help with
our conservation efforts such as the Marine Mammal Protection Act.  For
example, as the length of the ice-free season increases in the Arctic, we
continue to work extensively with the North Slope Borough, the oil and gas
industry, and local communities in polar bear habitat to minimize
human-bear interactions.  We have supported the efforts of local
communities to increase polar bear patrols, which keep people safe when
bears come to shore.  Similarly, we have increased efforts to minimize
potential impacts to polar bears from industrial activities on the Arctic
coastal plain.

For some species, our partnerships extend well beyond state lines.  With
wide ranging polar bear populations, we work closely with the Russian
Federation and Canada through a series of meetings and research initiatives
aimed at providing better management for polar bear populations that range
across our shared borders.  This year also marks the 40th anniversary of
the 1973 Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears, signed by all five
nations that have polar bear populations (United States, Canada, Russian
Federation, Norway, and Greenland [Denmark]).  The Service is actively
engaged with these countries and the International Union for Conservation
of Nature’s Polar Bear Specialist Group, to better understand the
circumpolar status of the species and develop an international management
plan to protect the polar bear into the future.

For more information on polar bear conservation and recovery visit:
http://alaska.fws.gov/fisheries/mmm/polarbear/pbmain.htm

*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* <http://www.fws.gov/>*. Connect with our Facebook page at **
www.facebook.com/usfws* <http://www.facebook.com/usfws

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