Polar bears are an important traditional and subsistence resource for Alaska Native people, and a symbol of a changing Arctic for the American public. The Chukchi Sea polar bear (Ursus maritimus) subpopulation faces conservation challenges including rapid rates of sea ice loss, industrial development, and human-polar bear interactions. Accurate and up-to-date scientific information is critical for conservation and responsible management of this subpopulation.
Since 2008, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and their partners have been studying this subpopulation. Michelle St. Martin, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service polar bear biologist will tell us about what we have learned to date! Michelle has been working with polar bears in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas for nine years. Prior to moving to Alaska and earning her MS from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, she worked with large animals in Yellowstone and the Great Smoky Mountains National Parks.