Iñupiaq Name: Nanuq
Scientific Name: Ursus maritimus

Polar Bear Subsistence Harvest Guidelines

Inuvialuit-Inupiat Polar Bear Commission

NSB-DWM contacts:  Taqulik Hepa, Billy Adams and Andy Von Duyke

II polar bear agreeement

The Inuvialuit-Inupiat Polar Bear Commissioners set a new harvest quota of 70 bears: 35 bears for the U.S. and 35 bears for Canada. The U.S. portion of the quota includes the NSB communities of Wainwright, Barrow, Kaktovik, and Nuiqsut. This was based on a population estimate of 1526 and is considered a maximum sustainable harvest. Go to this site for more information, or this page on the USFWS website.

Reminder for Polar Bear Harvest from Southern Beaufort Sea Stock

Reports to the Inuvialuit-Inupiat Polar Bear Commission:

Durner, G., et al. 2010. Program Update and Recap of 2009 and 2010 Field Operations. Submission to the 20th Annual Meeting of Joint Commissions of the Inuvialuit Game Council and the North Slope Borough for the Management Agreement for Polar Bears of the Southern Beaufort Sea held in Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories, Canada, July 29-31, 2010.

Joint Secretariat. 2015. Inuvialuit and Nanuq: A Polar Bear Traditional Knowledge Study. Joint Secretariat, Inuvialuit Settlement Region. xx + 304 pp. 

Kanayurak, N.L. 2016. A case study of polar bear co-management in Alaska. Master of Marine Affairs Thesis, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. 84 pp.

U.S.-Russia Bilateral Management Agreement for the Chukchi Sea Polar Bear Population

The U.S.-Russia Polar Bear Commission, made up of national and Native representatives from the U.S. and Russia, adopted a combined quota of 58 bears per year, of which no more than 19 can be female. How the quota will be divided and implemented has yet to be decided. The U.S. portion of the quota will include the NSB communities of Point Lay and Point Hope. The four-person U.S.-Russia Polar Bear Commission met for three days in Moscow.

USFWS Scientific Working Group of the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Agreement

Report of the Proeceedings of the 9th Meeting of the Russian-American Commission on Polear Bears, December 2017

Report of the Proceedings of the 10th Meeting of the Russian-American Commission on Polar Bears, July 2018

Older reports can be found on the USFWS link above.

Alaska Nannut Co-Management Council (ANCC)

  • Executive Director: Katya Wassillie
  • ANCC website coming soon!

ANCC Logo Contest! 

Here is an application to download and mail in. Entries are due by August 30, 2019.

For more general information on polar bears

ADFG and Polar Bears

USGS and Polar Bears

Tracking Polar Bears by Satellite (USGS) This website allows you to follow the tracking efforts of the USGS for their satellite-collared polar bears, as well as providing more information on polar bear biology.

Catalogue of Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) Maternal Den Locations in the Beaufort Sea and Neighboring Regions, Alaska, 1910–2010 This document was released by USGS in January 2011.

Peacock, E., et al. 2015. Implications of the circumpolar genetic structure of polar bears for their conservation in a rapidly warming Arctic. PLoS ONE 10(1):e112021. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0112021.

Malenfant, R.M., et al. 2016. Circumpolar genetic structure and recent gene flow of polar bears: A reanalysis. PLoS ONE 11(3):e0148967. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0148967.

USFWS and Polar Bears

Spring 2011 Research: The USFWS conducts annual polar bear capture efforts in the Chukchi Sea. In the past two years, their helicopter and capture crew were based out of Red Dog mine's port site just south of Kivalina. They had a fixed wing based in Kotzebue that supported the capture crew and to assist in locating bears for capture. Captures occur mid-March through the end of April.

They work mostly 20-30 miles or more off the Chukchi Sea coastline between Shishmaref and Cape Lisburne. Their staff stay in close contact with whaling captains in Point Hope to determine when whaling has begun and maintain agreed upon no fly zones to avoid any overlap between their activities and subsistence activities by local communities.

pb research

Click here for a USFWS update on 2011 fieldwork in the Chukchi Sea region.

Schliebe, S., et al. 2006. Range-wide status review of the polar bear (Ursus maritimus). US Fish and Wildlife Service, Marine Mammals Management, Anchorage, Alaska. 262 pp.

Polar Bear Conservation Issues (USFWS - Marine Mammals Management)

Endangered Species Act (ESA) Listing of Polar Bears (USFWS)

NOTE: The ESA listing and designation of critical habitat does not affect hunters' ability to take polar bears on the North Slope.

Determination of threatened status for the polar bear (Ursus maritimus) throughout its range Department of Interior Petition published on May 15, 2008

Special rule for the Polar Bear Department of Interior Petition published on May 15, 2008

Designation of Critical habitat for the Polar Bear in the US Department of Interior Petition published on December 7, 2010

MMPA (Marine Mammal Protection Act) Polar Bear Deterrence Guidelines Department of Interior Petition published on April 26, 2010

Studying Polar Bears and Telazol Poster

PolarBear Telazol poster

Information on Telazol and its breakdown in Polar Bears:

  • Broken down to metabolites after 24 hours
  • Some metabolites found after 11 days in Polar bears
  • State Veterinarian suggests 14-30 days for black and Brown Bear
  • Waiting 14 days to consume meat is considered a conservative view by State veterinarians
  • Contact number to find out when tagged bear last drugged 1-800-362-5148

Harvest a bear with a tag or mark? Call USFWS at 1-800-362-5148 to find out the date when the bear was captured before consuming the meat.

A research study in polar bears* has shown that Telazol® (tiletamine-zolazepam), the drug used to immobilize polar bears, is broken down quickly in polar bears, with the majority of drug residues disappearing from tissues within 24 hours.  Some break-down products of telazol (also known as “metabolites”) persist at low levels after this period. These metabolites decline rapidly after immobilization and are unlikely to result in a clinical effect in humans that eat meat or fat from hunted bears, however, some metabolites were found in very low concentrations 11 days post-immobilization (which was when the study ended).

State  wildlife  veterinarians  in  the US recommend that meat from animals drugged   with Telazol®  is  safe  to  consume  within  14-30  days  after tranquilization.  In Alaska, state veterinarians recommend that the meat of brown and black bears is safe to consume after 14 days.  Waiting 14 days  prior  to  consumption  of  a  polar  bear  that  has previously been immobilized  with  telazol,  is viewed by many wildlife veterinarians as a conservative  estimate.

The  decision  of  when  to  consume  meat from a previously  captured  bear,  however,  is  a  personal  decision.   The USFWS recommends that if you harvest a bear with a number mark on the hide, an
eartag, or tattoo on the upper gums, please call FWS at 1-800-362-5148 to find out the date when the bear was captured before consuming the meat.

*Semple et al. 2000. Pharmacokinetics and tissue residues of Telazol® in free-ranging polar bears. Journal of Wildlife Diseases. 36(4): 653-62.

Interesting Findings

Subfossil of Alaskan Polar Bear

Other Journal Articles on Polar Bears:

Polar Bears in a Sea of Change  See this poster describing Dr. George Divoky's observations of changes in sea ice extent and polar bear sightings at his study site east of Barrow, Alaska.

Banner photo credit: Jedediah Blumevitt