arctic_larry-malvin
© Larry Malvin

Arctic

Success Stories in the Arctic

Completion of Polar Bear Conservation Management Plan

In January 2017, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released the final plan. Defenders served on the team to draft the plan and will continue to work with the FWS and other partners mentioned above to implement the plan’s recommendations. The plan will also be highlighted when the US chairs the Arctic Council. Defenders is one of two conservation organizations that are members of the US Fish and Wildlife Service Polar Bear Recovery Team, a group of 36 experts convened to draft the recovery plan.

2007 to the present time. Defenders is also an official observer to the US Russia Bilateral Treaty agreement on polar bears which focuses on reducing illegal harvest of the shared Chukotka polar bear population between western Alaska and Russia in the Bering and Chukchi Sea and ensuring shared polar bear science data is collected and used in polar bear management decisions.

No trophy imports

In 2013, Defenders of Wildlife, Humane Society of the United States and other groups intervened to defend the ban on importing sport-hunted polar bear trophies against legal attacks by Safari Club International, Conservation Force and individual polar bear trophy hunters.  A federal appeals court upheld the 2008 decision to ban imports of polar bear parts from Canada, supporting the conservation of this iconic species.

Extinction rider goes extinct

In 2011, Congress voted to strip from an Interior funding bill a provision that would have prevented the addition of new species to the endangered species list.  This is a critical success for arctic species which may need additional protection in the face of climate change.

Pacific Walrus Species Response Plan Update

In 2015, Defenders co-hosted an experts workshop with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Pacific Walrus Spill Response Experts Workshop brought walrus experts together to solicit advice and information from invited experts in marine mammal oil spill response, including veterinarians, biologists, zookeepers, and state and federal response agencies. The Service is responsible for the management of Pacific walruses under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and is currently revising the Pacific Walrus Spill Response Plan that will guide response activities in the event of a spill. The results of this workshop, as identified in this report, will feed directly into the Service’s spill response planning effort.