Resolutions from the 9th meeting of the PBSG in Edmonton, Canada 1985

Res#1-1985: Protection of females with young and bears in dens

The IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group,

Recognizing that Article II of the Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears states that Contracting Parties "...shall take appropriate action to protect ... denning sites ... and ... manage polar bear populations in accordance with sound conservation practices based on the best available scientific data; and,

Recognizing that recent research on mathematical modeling of polar bears population dynamics clearly shows that the survival of adult females is more important to the maintenance of viable populations than is the survival of any other age or sex class; and,

Recognizing that in the State of Alaska and in Canada, those deriving the benefits from hunting polar bears shall desire to perpetuate the populations upon which they depend; and,

Noting that in State of Alaska in the United States and in the Province of Quebec in Canada female polar bears with cubs and bears in dens have no protection in legislation;

Therefore urges the United States and Canada to take immediate steps to negotiate informal agreements with the user groups to achieve full protection in practice for females with young and bears in dens and to follow such agreements with full protection in legislation as soon as possible.

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Res#2-1985: Management of internationally shared populations

The IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group,

Recognizing that Article II of the Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears states that Contracting Parties shall " ...take appropriate action to protect the ecosystems of which polar bears are a part..."; and,

Recognizing that Article VII of the Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears states that Contracting Parties shall "...consult with other parties on the management of migrating polar bear populations and exchange information on research and management programmes, research results and data on bears taken..."; and,

Recognizing that industrialization of northern nearshore and all offshore areas and its concomitant growth in human numbers represent potential threats to polar bear habitat, and thus to polar bears; and

Recognizing that many northern indigenous people depend on polar bears for at least part of the maintenance of their culture and economy;

Therefore urges the countries affected to immediately take more active steps to coordinate research and management of migrating polar bear populations in the Beaufort Sea, Chukchi Sea, Baffin Bay-Davis Strait, Greenland Sea and the Barents Sea.

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Res#3-1985: Collection and analysis of harvest data

The IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group,

Recognizing that it is very expensive to continue to conduct multiple-year mark and recapture studies of polar bears for the purpose of monitoring the status of harvested populations on a continuing basis; and,

Recognizing that it is relatively straightforward and inexpensive to collect information and specimen from which the age and sex composition of the polar bears harvested from each population can be monitored; and,

Recognizing that, to date, analytical techniques for interpreting harvest data on polar bears have not been adequately developed;

Therefore recommends that a high priority be placed on the collection and analysis of harvest data with a view to the development of techniques for monitoring the status of populations and the effects of different management practices.

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Res#4-1985: Trend indicators

The IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group,

Recognizing that it is very expensive to continue to conduct multiple-year mark and recapture studies of polar bears for the purpose of monitoring the status of harvested populations; and,

Recognizing that alternative, less expensive, and repeatable methods of population monitoring by indices such as line or strip transect counts, infrared scanning, or track counts etc. may be possible;

There recommends that such techniques be investigated, developed if practical, and tested under controlled circumstances in the field; and,

Further recommends that the internationally-shared population of polar bears in the Beaufort Sea be considered for this research because there is already a large body of data available for this area, because internationally coordinated research is continuing there at present, and because there is a unique body of movement data gained from telemetry studies available for that area now.

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Res#5-1985: Improvement of design of mark-recapture studies

The IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group,

Recognizing that the modeling of polar bear populations has indicated that it is essential to have an estimate of population size (N) for calculation of sustainable harvest; and,

Recognizing that although it is both extremely expensive and labor-intensive to conduct multiple-year mark and recapture studies of polar bears to estimate population size, this remains the only successful method developed to date; and,

Recognizing that significant additional benefits of conducting mark and recapture studies are many extremely valuable data obtained on age composition, reproductive rates, sex ratio, survival, and movements;

Recommends that research be directed at improving the cost-effectiveness and statistical reliability of the mark and recapture studies by developing and testing new research designs, and by using movement data gathered from telemetry to understand and develop corrections for capture biases in the mark and recapture data; and,

Further recommends that the internationally-shared population of polar bears in the Beaufort Sea be considered for this research because there is already a large body of data available for this area, internationally coordinated research in continuing there at present, and there is a unique body of movement data gained from telemetry studies available for that area now.

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Res#6-1985: Study of the un-hunted population of polar bears at Svalbard

The IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group,

Recognizing that many northern indigenous people depend on polar bears for at least part of the maintenance of their culture and economy; and,

Recognizing almost all our information on the population dynamics of polar bears has been collected from populations which have been perturbed by hunting; and,

Recognizing that to date there are no comparative data on the population dynamics, reproductive parameters, or movement patterns of an un-harvested population of polar bears so that possible biases in the results of studies on hunted populations can be evaluated; and,

Recognizing that data from studies of other species of mammals indicate that social interactions in stable populations may result in lower numbers of polar bears than the availability of habitat alone might dictate; and,

Recognizing that only two of the jurisdictions responsible for polar bears, Norway and the USSR, may have populations which have been unperturbed for several generations and therefore could be studied for the purposes of comparing harvested and un-harvested populations; and,

Recognizing that the polar bear population in the Svalbard area has the advantage of being more politically and logistically accessible to the international scientific community and, that baseline data are available both from the periods of harvesting and recovery in Svalbard;

Recommends that Norway coordinate an international research project on the population dynamics, reproductive parameters, and movements of the un-hunted population of polar bears in Svalbard for the purpose of developing a baseline for comparison with the existing data from hunted populations.

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Res#7-1985: Participation of Norway and Denmark in polar bear research

The IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group,

Recognizing that the governments of Canada, Denmark, Norway, the USA, and the USSR concluded that the States of the Arctic Region had special responsibilities for the protection of the flora and fauna of the region and signed the Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears because they decided that protection of the species would best be effected through international cooperation; and,

Recognizing that Article II of the Agreement on Conservation of Polar Bears states that Contracting Parties shall "...take appropriate action to protect the ecosystems of which polar bears are a part..." and that the increasing industrial interest in offshore exploration and production of hydrocarbons represents a potential threat to polar bear habitat; and,

Recognizing that Article VII of the International Polar Bear Agreement states "The Contracting Parties shall conduct national research programmes on polar bears, particularly research relating to the conservation and management of the species..."; and,

Noting that although both Denmark and Norway have made many significant contributions to polar bear research in the past, the continuation of these important studies in the future appears uncertain;

Recommends that Denmark and Norway both be encouraged to maintain their productive and important research programmes on the conservation of polar bears within their jurisdictions and continue to participate actively in the IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group.

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Res#8-1985: Participation of scientists from the USSR in the IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group

The IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group,

Recognizing that the governments of Canada, Denmark, Norway, the USA, and the USSR concluded that the States of the Arctic Region has special responsibilities for the protection of the flora and fauna of the region and signed the Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears because they agreed that protection of the species would best be effected through international cooperation; and,

Recognizing that Article VII of the Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears states "The Contracting Parties shall conduct national research programmes on polar bears ... and ... exchange information on research and management programmes, research results and data on bears taken..."; and,

Recognizing that many northern indigenous people, including those in the Soviet Union, depend on polar bears for at least part of the maintenance of their culture and economy; and,

Noting that polar bear scientists from the Soviet Union were not present at either the February 1983 workshop of the IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group, held at the Grand Canyon, USA or the 9th Plenary meeting held in Edmonton in August 1985, and that this had a serious detrimental effect on the value of the discussions and on the international exchange of information which the Agreement so clearly noted was vital;

Recommends that the Soviet Union ensure that their polar bear scientists are able to participate fully in future meetings of the IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group so as to ensure the maximum international exchange of research and management information on polar bears, as was intended when the Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears was signed.

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