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KODIAK: International Team Fosters Brown Bear Conservation
Alaska Region, February 2, 2007
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The Northern Forum's Brown Bear Working Group strives to enhance conservation of brown bear through increased international collaboration in science, education, and law enforcement. Natalie Novik/The Northern Forum
The Northern Forum's Brown Bear Working Group strives to enhance conservation of brown bear through increased international collaboration in science, education, and law enforcement. Natalie Novik/The Northern Forum - Photo Credit: n/a
Sibling Hokkaido brown bears rolic in the surf. A new brown bear study will compare genetics of island-based and mainland populations along the North Pacific Rim. Photo by Kazutoshi Hiyeda
Sibling Hokkaido brown bears rolic in the surf. A new brown bear study will compare genetics of island-based and mainland populations along the North Pacific Rim. Photo by Kazutoshi Hiyeda - Photo Credit: n/a

The future welfare of brown bears depends heavily on the success of conservation efforts in the core of their intercontinental range, namely Alaska, republics of the Russian Far East, and Hokkaido, Japan. Promoting these conservation efforts, Kodiak Refuge and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game continued to support collaborative efforts of the  Brown Bear Working Group, a project of the Northern Forum, a U.S.-based non-profit  organization dedicated to promoting international cooperation on environmental stewardship and other topics in regions of the Far North. This year, the Working Group—comprised mainly of biologists from coastal Alaska, eastern Russia, and Hokkaido—generated a plan to research genetic relationships among brown bear populations of the north Pacific Rim.

Led by scientists in Japan and Alaska, the genetics study is expected to provide a detailed picture of genetic characteristics and evolutionary relationships of the Rim's brown bear populations. Although much is known about brown bear genetics in Alaska and Hokkaido, little is known about the genetics of populations occupying eastern Russian. Results from this project will provide an important tool for identifying and conserving discrete populations and genomes that are relatively unique or of limited diversity. Researchers expect to issue findings in 2008.

In October 2006, the Working Group met for a workshop in Hokkaido, Japan. Highlights from the workshop included presentations on the status and cultural role of brown bears in Hokkaido, Kamchatka, and Alaska (Kodiak Archipelago); discussion of new and planned educational publications targeting public and resource managers in Japan and eastern Russia; and disclosure of how Kamchatka officials upgraded their customs inspection process in 2006 to further discourage harvest and transport of brown bear illegally harvested in Kamchatka by U.S.-based trophy hunters. Also, plans were announced to hold the 7th Workshop in Fairbanks, Alaska and Denali National Park in August 2007, and to implement a new collaboration agreement between the Working Group and the Council on Arctic Flora and Fauna.


Contact Info: Kristen Gilbert, 907-786-3391, Kristen_Gilbert@fws.gov



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