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Proposed Polar Bear Deterrence Guidelines Published


April 27, 2010

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Friday proposed deterrence guidelines that may be safely used to deter a polar bear without seriously injuring or causing the death of the animal. The deterrence guidelines would, if approved, be voluntary and are intended to reduce occurrences of interactions between bears and humans in manners safe for both. They provide clear guidance for minimizing incidental encounters with polar bears, but will not change the legal status quo for any activities in Alaska.

The proposed deterrence guidelines include 2 levels:

(1) Passive deterrence measures ­ these are measures intended to prevent polar bears from gaining access to property or people. They include:

(i) Rigid fencing and other fixed barriers such as gates and fence skirting.

(ii) Bear exclusion cages, which provide a protective shelter for people.

(iii) Bear-proof garbage containers to exclude bears from accessing garbage as a food.

(2) Preventive deterrence measures ­ these are measures intended to dissuade a polar bear from initiating an interaction with property or people. These are:

(i) Acoustic devices that create an auditory disturbance.

(ii) Vehicle or boat deterrence, e.g. patrolling the periphery of an area.

In proposing these guidelines the Service notes that it is mindful of the inherent risks to humans associated with the act of deterring a large carnivore such as the polar bear, as well the MMPA's intent that acceptable acts of deterrence are those that safely deter but do not result in death or serious injury. Therefore, these guidelines are benign in nature. While some parties may believe they do not go far enough, we do not believe more active deterrence measures are appropriate for these guidelines.

Independent of these proposed deterrence guidelines, and under a separate provision of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Service does authorize active hazing measures that may be taken to stop bear activity patterns or to remove an individual animal from areas of human populations or work environs. In addition, the lethal taking of a polar bear in defense of life (but not property) is an exempted action under the MMPA.

The proposed deterrence guidelines would serve to complement such authorized activities and not supersede them.

The Federal Register notice detailing these proposed guidelines will be published on April 26. We will consider comments on the proposed guidelines that are received on or before May 26, 2010. You may submit comments by one of the following methods:

  • U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No. FWS-R7-FHC-2010-0002; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203; Attention: Polar Bear Deterrence Guidelines; or
  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: Follow the instructions for submitting comments to Docket No. FWS-R7-FHC-2010-0002.

Comments will be posted on This generally means that any personal information you provide will be posted.


Source of News:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service


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