[Federal Register: January 11, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 6)]

[Rules and Regulations]               

[Page 1529-1539]

From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]





Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 18

RIN 1018-AE26


Import of Polar Bear Trophies From Canada: Addition of 

Populations to the List of Areas Approved for Import

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Final rule.


SUMMARY: This rule announces findings on the import of polar bears 

(Ursus maritimus) taken in sport hunts in the areas formerly known as 

Parry Channel-Baffin Bay and Queen Elizabeth Islands, Northwest 

Territories (NWT), Canada, under the Marine Mammal Protection Act 

(MMPA). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service summarizes the new research 

data used by Canada to redefine these areas into five populations: 

Queen Elizabeth Islands, Norwegian Bay, Kane Basin, Lancaster Sound, 

and Baffin Bay, and provides a summary of the Nunavut Land Claim and 

the new Flexible Quota Option. The Service finds that Lancaster Sound 

and Norwegian Bay meet the requirements of the MMPA and adds them to 

the list of approved populations in the regulations. The Service defers 

the decision on Queen Elizabeth Islands, Baffin Bay, and Kane Basin.

DATES: This rule is effective February 10, 1999.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Teiko Saito, Office of Management 

Authority, telephone (703) 358-2093; fax (703) 358-2281.



    On February 18, 1997, the Service published in the Federal Register 

(62 FR 7302) the final rule for the import of trophies of personal 

sport-hunted polar bears taken in Canada by U.S. hunters. The rule 

established the application requirements, permit procedures, issuance 

criteria, permit conditions, and issuance fee for such permits and made 

legal and scientific findings required by the MMPA. Before issuing a 

permit for the import of a polar bear trophy, we, the Service, must 

make a finding that the polar bear was legally taken by the applicant, 

and in consultation with the Marine Mammal Commission (MMC) and after 

opportunity for public comment, must make the findings listed in 

section 104(c)(5)(A) of the MMPA. We made these findings on an 

aggregate basis to be applicable for multiple harvest seasons as 

follows: (a) The Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) has a 

sport-hunting program that allows us to determine before import that 

each polar bear was legally taken; (b) the GNWT has a monitored and 

enforced program that is consistent with the purposes of the 1973 

International Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears 

(International Agreement); (c) the GNWT has a sport-hunting program 

that is based on scientifically sound quotas ensuring the maintenance 

of the affected population stock at a sustainable level for certain 

populations; and (d) the export of sport-hunted trophies from Canada 

and their subsequent import into the United States would be consistent 

with CITES and would not likely contribute to illegal trade of bear 

parts. In addition, we found that the prohibition on the import of 

pregnant and nursing marine mammals in section 102(b) of the MMPA would 

be met under the application requirements, issuance criteria, and 

permit conditions in the regulation.

    We provided information in the final rule to show that the 

following polar bear populations met the criteria specified in the 

MMPA: Southern Beaufort Sea, Northern Beaufort Sea, Viscount Melville, 

M'Clintock Channel, and Western Hudson Bay. We deferred making a 

decision for other populations: Parry Channel-Baffin Bay, Queen 

Elizabeth Islands, Foxe Basin, Gulf of Boothia, Southern Hudson Bay, 

and Davis Strait. At the same time, we announced that upon receipt of 

substantial new scientific and management data, we would publish a 

proposal for public comment and consult with the MMC. Any population 

found to meet the criteria would be added to the list of approved 

populations in the regulation at Sec. 18.30(i)(1).

    When we proposed the polar bear rulemaking in July 1995 (60 FR 

36382), the Department of Renewable Resources (DRR), GNWT, had begun an 

intensive population inventory of the Parry Channel-Baffin Bay area. We 

treated the Parry Channel-Baffin Bay area as a single population based 

on the best available scientific data at that time and current 

management practices by the GNWT. However, we recognized that 

forthcoming information would likely show the area to be composed of 

multiple populations. The final rule reflected our response to the 

numerous comments received on the treatment of the Parry Channel-Baffin 

Bay area as a single unit, rather than the new data resulting from 

Canada's ongoing research and management changes. To avoid further 

delay in completing the final rule, we chose to complete the rulemaking 

on the proposed rule and to publish the new data in a subsequent 

proposed rule. Thus, we deferred making a decision for the Parry 

Channel-Baffin Bay population in the final rule.

    Canada provided information to the Service as their research in the 

Parry Channel-Baffin Bay areas progressed. In August 1995, Environment 

Canada stated in a letter to the Service that current status 

information on the Parry Channel and Baffin Bay areas ``would 

disqualify these populations,'' but new additional information could be 

available for review in early 1996. At the 1996 Polar Bear Technical 

Committee (PBTC) meeting the GNWT presented preliminary information 

that four polar bear populations were identified within an area that 

included the former Parry Channel-Baffin Bay and portions of the Queen 

Elizabeth Islands polar bear populations. Based on the preliminary 

data, the GNWT recommended boundary changes and renaming of the Parry 

Channel population as Lancaster Sound, boundary changes for the Baffin 

Bay population, and identification of the new Norwegian Bay and Kane 

Basin populations out of areas of Queen Elizabeth Islands. In July 

1996, we received additional information on these areas and were 

advised that research and inventory studies in the areas were ongoing. 

In January 1997 additional information on these areas was obtained at 

the PBTC meeting, including information on new

[[Page 1530]]

population boundaries (Map 1) and population estimates, implementation 

of the Flexible Quota Option, and management changes as a result of 

further implementation of the Nunavut Land Claim.

    Map 1. Boundaries of polar bear populations in Canada. Southern 

Beaufort Sea (SB), Northern Beaufort Sea (NB), Viscount Melville (VM), 

Queen Elizabeth Islands (QE), Norwegian Bay (NW), Kane Basin (KB), 

Lancaster Sound (LS), Baffin Bay (BB), Gulf of Boothia (GB), M'Clintock 

Channel (MC), Foxe Basin (FB), Davis Strait (DS), Western Hudson Bay 

(WH), and Southern Hudson Bay (SH).




    On June 12, 1997, Congress amended the MMPA to ease the criteria 

that need to be met before a permit can be issued to import polar bear 

trophies taken before April 30, 1994 (i.e., pre-Amendment bears). See 

Public Law No. 105-18, Sec. 5004, 111 Stat. 187-88 (1997). Under the 

new language, we can issue an import permit for such trophies after: 

(a) the applicant has provided proof to show that the polar bear was 

legally hunted in Canada and (b) we have published a notice of the 

application in the Federal Register for a 30-day public comment period 

and collected the permit issuance fee, which has been set by regulation 

at $1,000. These pre-Amendment trophies are subject to the inspection, 

clearance, and tagging procedures previously described in the final 

rule published February 18, 1997 (62 FR 7302). Based on the June 12, 

1997, amendment, we are currently accepting and processing applications 

for permits to import polar bear trophies sport hunted prior to April 

30, 1994, and will propose separately a revision of the regulations to 

implement the provisions of the amendment.

Scientific Findings and Summary of Information


    We find that the Norwegian Bay and Lancaster Sound populations have 

sport-hunting programs based on scientifically sound quotas ensuring 

the maintenance of the affected population stock at a sustainable 

level. We continue to defer making a finding for the Kane Basin and 

Baffin Bay populations pending the outcome of ongoing management 

actions between Canada and Greenland for the cooperative management of 

these shared populations. We also continue to defer

[[Page 1531]]

making a finding on the Queen Elizabeth Islands population that now 

contains land only in the far northern part of the Canadian Arctic 


Summary of Information

    We considered the new available information in reassessing whether 

the five populations now meet the required finding that there be a 

sport-hunting program based on scientifically sound quotas that ensure 

the maintenance of the affected population stock at a sustainable 

level. We considered the overall sport-hunting program for each 

population, including such factors as whether the sport-hunting program 

includes: (a) Reasonable measures to ensure the population is managed 

for sustainability (i.e., monitoring to identify problems, ways of 

correcting problems, etc.); (b) harvest quotas calculated and based on 

scientific principles; (c) a management agreement between the 

representatives of communities that share the population; and (d) 

compliance with quotas and other aspects of the program as agreed to in 

the management agreements or other international agreements.

    An independent review of these populations was conducted by Dr. J. 

Ward Testa on behalf of the MMC and the results were reported to the 

Service in April 1997. The purpose of Dr. Testa's report was to review 

and evaluate Canada's polar bear management program, particularly as it 

related to the current status and sustainability of the polar bear 

populations for which we had deferred final decisions in the February 

18, 1997, final rule. Specifically, the report addressed: (1) Whether 

Canada's polar bear conservation program is based upon sound principles 

of resource management; (2) whether the procedure being used by 

Canadian scientists to estimate sustainable polar bear harvests is 

conceptually sound and reflects current knowledge about polar bears; 

(3) whether the judgments concerning the number, discreteness, and 

status of putative polar bear populations in Canada are based upon the 

best available data and appropriate analyses; and (4) the likelihood 

that the data and procedures being used to assess population status and 

manage harvests will allow polar bear populations in Canada to grow or 

be maintained at current levels (Testa, 1997). Dr. Testa's conclusions 

are discussed below in context with our findings on the Norwegian Bay, 

Lancaster Sound, Kane Basin, and Baffin Bay populations.

A. Population Management

    The rationale of the GNWT polar bear management program is that the 

human-caused kill (e.g., harvest, defense, or incidental kill) must 

remain within the sustainable yield, with the anticipation of slow 

growth for any population. This program has several components 

including: (a) Use of scientific studies to determine and monitor 

changes in population size and establish population boundaries; (b) 

involvement of the resource users and incorporation of traditional 

knowledge to enrich and complement scientific studies; (c) harvest data 

collection and a license tracking system; and (d) enforcement measures 

through regulations and management agreements.

    In Canada, management of polar bears has been delegated to the 

Provinces and Territories. However, the Federal Department of 

Environment Canada (Canadian Wildlife Service) maintains an active 

research program and is involved in management of populations that are 

shared between jurisdictions, particularly between Canada and other 

nations. In addition, Native Land Claims have resulted in Co-Management 

Boards for most of Canada's polar bear populations. The PBTC and 

Federal/Provincial Polar Bear Administrative Committee (PBAC) meet 

annually to ensure a coordinated management process between these 

parties (Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) unpublished 

documents are on file with the Service). Study of the Parry Channel-

Baffin Bay area highlights the cooperative and shared management that 

has come to characterize Canada's polar bear program. The GNWT 

conducted the study of this area in cooperation with the Hunters and 

Trappers Associations of several communities, Parks Canada, the 

University of Saskatchewan, and the Greenland Fisheries Institute. 

Participation by the Institute is of relevance since polar bears of the 

Baffin Bay and Kane Basin populations are shared with Greenland and 

harvested by residents of both countries. The results of these studies 

have been shared among participants, representatives of the Wildlife 

Management Boards, and Provincial and Federal polar bear managers at 

the annual PBTC and PBAC meetings as well as at the World Conservation 

Union (IUCN) Polar Bear Specialist Group (PBSG) meetings which bring 

together specialists from all countries that have polar bears (GNWT). 

Additional information on the GNWT management program for polar bear, 

including the use of inventory studies, population modeling, and peer 

review, is provided in the Service's February 18, 1997, final rule.

    We noted in that final rule that Canada has established an 

effective management program for polar bear. Testa (1997) agreed in his 

report to the MMC with our appraisal of the GNWT polar bear management 

program. In particular, he noted that due thought has been given to the 

program and much has been accomplished, particularly with regard to 

broad scientific and political collaboration, community education about 

conservation principles, a high level of community involvement with 

management decisions, and implementation of adaptive, sustainable 

harvest quotas at the community level which resonate well with basic 

conservation principles.

B. Calculation of Harvest Quotas Based on Population Inventories

    The DRR calculates harvest quotas based upon population boundaries 

delineated from inventories and mark-recapture studies (USFWS 1997; 

Bethke et al. 1996). Using satellite telemetry technology, researchers 

place collars on female polar bears and track the movements of the 

collared animals. The data collected is then used to define the 

population boundaries. Collars, either for satellite telemetry or radio 

tracking, cannot be reliably used for adult male polar bears since 

their necks are approximately the same size as the head and collars are 

easily lost. Polar bear researchers are still seeking alternative 

tracking technology suitable for male bears.

    Inventory of the Parry Channel-Baffin Bay area and bordering 

islands of the Queen Elizabeth Islands area was begun in 1991 with the 

use of satellite collars. Additional collars were used in successive 

years through 1995. Considerable information on the mark-recapture 

studies of these areas, including the number of collars deployed, the 

areas in which they were used, the number of bears recaptured by age 

and sex class, and the methods of analyzing the data is provided in 

detail in the 1997 NWT submission to the PBTC (GNWT 1997).

    Canadian polar bear managers have concluded, based on analysis of 

the data collected from this research, that there are five polar bear 

populations in these areas. These are the new Norwegian Bay and Kane 

Basin populations, the renamed Lancaster Sound population, the revised 

Queen Elizabeth Islands population, and the Baffin Bay population. 

Testa (1997) reported that the population boundaries are the result of 

extensive research with satellite and conventional telemetry and that 


[[Page 1532]]

reorganization of the Parry Channel-Baffin Bay and Queen Elizabeth 

Islands populations was conducted using procedures previously described 

by Bethke et al. (1996). Recognizing the inevitable uncertainties of 

science, Testa cautioned that the conclusions concerning polar bear 

stocks, their spatial boundaries, degree of separation, and sizes might 

not be completely correct. However, he asserted that the conclusions of 

Canadian polar bear researchers and managers are certainly based on the 

best available data and analyses.

    The GNWT's use of data and management considerations to identify 

population boundaries is consistent with the definition of ``population 

stock'' as used in the MMPA (USFWS 1997). The GNWT recognizes that the 

boundaries of these stocks are partly determined by land mass, sea ice, 

and open water barriers that bar polar bear movement, and by management 

considerations. One such management consideration has led to a recent 

change to the Northwest Territory Big Game Hunting Regulations. In the 

past, the take of a bear was counted against the quota of the 

population from which it was removed. In recognition of the sometimes 

overlapping nature of populations which are not separated by some 

physical barrier, current regulations establish a 30-km zone on either 

side of a contiguous boundary between two polar bear populations. 

Practically speaking, what this means for hunters is that they can 

continue to track a polar bear across the population boundary and up to 

30 km within the adjoining population. The take of that bear is then 

counted against the quota of the population from which the hunter's tag 

was provided. This regulation change reflects the description of 

population units as functional management units where immigration and 

emigration are negligible relative to the effects of harvest or defense 

kills (GNWT 1997).

    A more recent investigative tool for defining population boundaries 

is the study of genetic variation among polar bears. Data obtained from 

such studies suggest that there is a genetic basis to the population 

boundaries (Paetkau et al. 1995). However, further work is needed to 

better understand how genetic variability should be interpreted and its 

relation to defining populations. Testa (1997) commented that genetic 

studies generally provide less resolution for management purposes than 

satellite telemetry.

    The second phase of each population inventory is to estimate 

population numbers using mark-recapture techniques. The DRR mark-

recapture studies are based on the following: (a) Marking of 15 to 30 

percent of the bears in the population; (b) sampling the entire range 

of the population to determine the fraction that are marked and the 

fraction that are unmarked; and (c) aiming for a target 15 percent 

coefficient of variation on the population estimates (GNWT 1997). For 

small populations, such as Kane Basin and Norwegian Bay, the DRR 

recognizes that it can be difficult to obtain a large enough sample 

size needed for the estimates. The alternative for these small 

populations would be to sample in areas where bears are known to 

concentrate. However, this would introduce bias. Instead, priority is 

given to reducing bias by using the same protocol in small as well as 

large areas which requires sampling throughout the entire range of the 

population. Since there are absolute limits to the precision of 

information from small populations that no sampling protocol can 

overcome, a full risk assessment will be done on these populations. A 

new computer program for this purpose has been developed and was 

presented at the 1998 Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine 

Mammals (GNWT 1998). This is an international forum attended by marine 

mammal researchers from many countries.

    Three key characteristics of the GNWT calculation of sustainable 

harvest from the population estimates are: (a) Assumption of no density 

effects; (b) emphasis on conservation of female bears through hunting 

at a ratio of two males to one female; and (c) use of pooled best 

estimates for vital rates (e.g., rates of birth and death) for all 

Canadian polar bear populations with the exception of Viscount Melville 

(USFWS 1997). In his review and evaluation of the procedures used by 

the GNWT to estimate sustainable harvests, Testa expressed some 

reservations about the modeling aspects but went on to test the polar 

bear parameters provided by Taylor et al. (1987) with a general 

population model. He concluded that a 3 percent harvest of the female 

segment of the polar bear population is sustainable and probably 

conservative, and that the assumptions made for calculation of the 

sustainable harvest are reasonable. Additionally, he noted that these 

low rates of harvest, even if somewhat greater than 3 percent, are 

unlikely to result in irreversible reductions of bear numbers on the 

time scale of Canada's research and management actions. Harvests of 4 

to 6 percent of the original population would take from 9 to 23 years 

to reduce the female population by 30 percent. In this context 

overharvest is possible, but reversible in the same or shorter time 

span by regulating or eliminating quotas, particularly if density 

dependent effects come into play (Testa 1997). Information on the 

allocation of the sustainable harvest as community quotas can be 

obtained from the Service's February 18, 1997, final rule.

    The final year of mark-recapture work needed to estimate population 

numbers in the Norwegian Bay, Lancaster Sound, Kane Basin, and Baffin 

Bay populations was conducted in 1997. The last field season for the 

Norwegian Bay, Lancaster Sound, and Kane Basin populations was 

conducted in spring while the last Baffin Bay field season was 

completed in the fall during the open water season when polar bears are 

found onshore. Preliminary estimates for these populations have been 

calculated based on the data obtained by the GNWT through the Fall 1996 

field season. Some data analysis had yet to be completed as of the 1998 

Polar Bear Technical Committee Meeting but the final analysis was not 

anticipated to be qualitatively different than the preliminary analysis 

(GNWT 1998).

    Table 1 provides information based on the GNWT reporting format for 

each of these populations including the population estimate, the total 

kill (excluding natural deaths), percentage of females killed, and the 

calculated sustainable harvest. Based on this information the status is 

expressed as increasing, stable or decreasing represented by the 

symbols ``+'', ``0'', and ``-''. The symbol ``0*'' refers to the recent 

implementation of the Flexible Quota Option in the management program 

as described below.

    Table 1. Draft status for the Norwegian Bay (NW), Lancaster Sound 

(LS), Kane Basin (KB), Baffin Bay (BB), and Queen Elizabeth Islands 

(QE) populations. Average kill and harvest figures over several 

seasons, and for the 1995/96 and 1996/97 seasons.

[[Page 1533]]


                                                                         5-Year average 91/92-95/   3-Year average 93/94-95/         Season 95/96               Season 96/97

                                                                                    96                         96            ------------------------------------------------------

                 Pop.                    Pop.         Reliability      ------------------------------------------------------                                                         Pop.<SUP>1, <SUP>2

                                         est.                             Kill(% )    Sustainable    Kill(% )    Sustainable    Kill(% )    Sustainable    Kill(% )    Sustainable      Trend

                                                                                        harvest                    harvest                    harvest                    harvest


NW....................................     100  Fair..................     4.0(30.0)         4.5      4.7(42.9)         3.5        7(57.1)         2.6         2(0.0)         4.5       0/0/0*/+

LS....................................    1700  Good..................    81.2(24.9)        76.5     81.7(26.0)        76.5       80(26.9)        76.5       77(22.1)        76.5     0*/0*/0*/0

KB....................................     200  Fair..................     6.2(37.1)         8.1      6.3(38.1)         7.9        6(35.0)         8.6        5(60.0)         5.0       0/0/0/0*

BB....................................    2200  Good..................   122.2(35.4)        93.2    120.3(35.0)        94.3      117(34.2)        96.5       57(35.7)        92.4        -/-/-/0

QE....................................     200  None..................       0.0(--)         0.0        0.0(--)         0.0          0(--)         0.0          0(--)         0.0       0/0/0/0




0 no change, a difference of 3 or less between the kill and the sustainable harvest.

0* population stable because of management changes.

<SUP>2--Population Trend expressed for 5 yr. avg./3 yr. avg./95-96 season/96-97 season.

    The Service considers the use of qualitative terms to report the 

reliability of population estimates within the present context to be 

valid since they were determined through research using scientific 

methodology and are a conservative approach (USFWS 1997). However, we 

also recognize that the use of quantitative references, such as the 

standard error, are more acceptable. The GNWT anticipates that 

qualitative terms for the Lancaster Sound, Norwegian Bay, Kane Basin, 

and Baffin Bay populations will be replaced with quantitative terms as 

final analysis of the latest research data is completed (GNWT).

C. Management Agreements and the Nunavut Land Claim

    Polar bear management in Canada is a shared responsibility 

involving Federal, Territorial, Provincial, and land claim 

participants. Coordination of these parties is the result, in part, of 

PBTC and PBAC meetings as well as management agreements between the 

resource users and the GNWT. These management agreements are an 

intrinsic part of cooperative polar bear management in Canada. In 

Sec. 18.30(i)(1)(iii) we recognized management agreements as an 

essential part of making the finding that there is a sport-hunting 

program to ensure the sustainability of the affected polar bear 


    The settlement of native land claims in Canada served as an impetus 

for the development of the management agreements. The Norwegian Bay, 

Lancaster Sound, Kane Basin, and Baffin Bay populations, among others, 

fall within the Nunavut Land Claim signed in 1993. Both this claim and 

the Inuvialuit Land Claim signed in 1984 establish co-management boards 

for cooperative management of wildlife resources, including polar bear 

(GNWT). The respective roles of the GNWT and the Nunavut Wildlife 

Management Board and the Inuvialuit Wildlife Management Advisory 

Council are defined in law. The wildlife management advisory boards are 

regarded as the main instrument of wildlife management action in the 

NWT, although the Minister of the Department of Renewable Resources is 

the ultimate management authority (GNWT). The current approach to polar 

bear management begins with community meetings and concludes with 

Population Management Agreements that are signed by the communities 

that share a population and the Minister of Renewable Resources, 

reviewed by the Native Land Claim Boards, and finally transmitted to 

the Minister of the Department of Renewable Resources as 

recommendations for regulation changes to implement the agreements 


    One effect of the Nunavut Land Claim is the division in 1999 of the 

NWT into the Nunavut Territory and some presently unnamed western 

territory. The transition for this change has already begun with 

restructuring of departments including amalgamation of the DRR and 

others into the Department of Resources, Wildlife and Economic 

Development (M. Taylor, personal communication). The NWT polar bear 

project has been transferred from Yellowknife, NWT, to Iqaluit, the 

future capital of the Nunavut Territory. We view these changes as a 

continuation of a process begun with settlement of the Nunavut Land 

Claim in 1993. Management actions taken to date, including development 

of the management agreements, have been with an eye toward 

establishment of the Nunavut Territory and are a further example of 

Canada's commitment to a responsive management program for polar bear.

    The success of the Canadian management agreements and others, such 

as the Inupiat-Inuvialuit Agreement for the Southern Beaufort Sea polar 

bear population, has led to the acceptance of such agreements as an 

important tool for interjurisdictional polar bear management. At the 

1997 IUCN meeting for polar bear, the PBSG reiterated the need for 

cooperative management of shared populations both as a benefit to polar 

bears and as a requirement of the International Agreement. 

Specifically, the contribution of management agreements was recognized 

and the need for additional agreements was called for in a new 

resolution to the International Agreement that concluded that ``the 

development of sound conservation practices for shared populations 

requires systematic cooperation, including use of jointly collected 

research and management information to develop cooperative management 

agreements'' (PBSG 1997).

    The Canadian Government is actively pursuing development of a 

management agreement for polar bear populations shared between Canada 

and Greenland. These shared populations include the Kane Basin, Baffin 

Bay, and Davis Strait polar bear populations. A meeting was held in 

January 1997 to identify management needs and to discuss the potential 

development of a management agreement for these shared populations. The 

following areas were identified as necessary elements of a co-

management agreement: (a) agreement on the boundaries, population, and 

sustained yield of the three populations; (b) acceptable division of 

the sustained yield; (c) harvest monitoring; (d) a management system to 

ensure the sustained yield is not exceeded; and (e) agreement on other 

harvest practices, such as family groups, protection of dens, etc.

    Representatives of Greenland have clarified that, unlike the 

Inuvialuit-Inupiat agreement for the Southern Beaufort Sea population, 

any management agreement for populations shared with that country would 

need to be government to government rather than user group to user 

group. At this point it is uncertain how Canada will be represented 

given the complex sharing of management responsibilities for polar bear 

within Canada. A committee was

[[Page 1534]]

formed to examine the options for Canadian representation. The options 

are expected to be discussed at future meetings on development of 

management agreements between Canada and Greenland (GNWT).

D. Compliance With Quotas and the Sport-Hunting Program

    The community quotas are based on harvest of polar bears at a ratio 

of two males:one female (USFWS 1997). While this allows for the harvest 

to be 50 percent higher than if polar bears were harvested at a 1:1 

ratio, implementation of the sex selective harvest has posed problems. 

For some communities where the sex ratio was set as a target of 

management agreements, there was ineffective enforcement when the 

harvest of females exceeded the target in some years. For those 

communities where the sex-selective harvest was implemented through 

regulation, difficulty distinguishing between male and female polar 

bears led to mistakes and inconsistent law enforcement action for those 

mistakes. To respond to these problems, the Flexible Quota Option was 

developed. All communities within the four populations of Norwegian 

Bay, Lancaster Sound, Kane Basin, and Baffin Bay have agreed to follow 

the Flexible Quota Option . This change has been incorporated into the 

respective management agreements and, subsequently, into the 

regulations which implement those agreements.

    The premise behind the Flexible Quota Option is that it will allow 

for mistakes in sex identification and for community preferences in 

sex-selective harvesting while keeping the harvest within sustainable 

yield. There are two parts to this system. The first part is a harvest 

tracking system that monitors the number of males and females killed in 

the past 5 years. If the sustained yield was not taken in any one of 

the past 5 years, then the difference between the sustained yield and 

the actual kill is counted as a positive credit. These accrued credits 

can then be used to compensate for an overharvest in a future harvest 

season. If no credits are available (i.e., the full sustained yield was 

taken in each of the past seasons or any available credits have already 

been used), then an overharvest can be mitigated by quota reductions in 

future years. Once the overharvest has been corrected by a quota 

reduction, the quota returns to its original level. Since community 

quotas are a shared allocation of the overall population quota, a 

community without positive credits can receive credits from one of the 

other communities hunting from that same polar bear population. If 

there are no credits available or if a community chooses not to provide 

credits to another, then the overharvest is mitigated by a quota 

reduction to the community which experienced the overharvest.

    The second part of the Flexible Quota Option is the calculation of 

the quota based on sustainable sex-selective harvesting of one female 

bear for every two males. The GNWT summarizes the system as follows. 

The number of quota tags allocated to a community depends on the 

community's allocation of the sustainable yield of female bears (F) 

from any one population as established through a management agreement, 

the number of female bears killed in the previous year 

(K<INF>t</INF><INF>-</INF><INF>1</INF>), and the proportion of female 

bears in the previous year's harvest 

(P<INF>t</INF><INF>-</INF><INF>1</INF>). The quota for the current year 

(Q<INF>t</INF>) is then calculated as:

Q<INF>t</INF>= (2F-K<INF>t</INF><INF>-</INF><INF>1</INF>)/


    The value of (2F-K<INF>t-1</INF>) cannot exceed F, and the value of 

P<INF>t-1</INF> cannot be less than 0.33. If the value of (2F-

K<INF>t-1</INF>) is less than zero, the quota is zero and the 

subsequent year's quota is calculated by designating K<INF>t</INF> as 

the value of -(2F-K<INF>t</INF><INF>-</INF><INF>1</INF>) (GNWT 1996). 

Testa (1997) concluded that this was simply a way to average the quota 

over two years when a village inadvertently exceeds its quota in a 

given year. In this way the average take of female bears cannot exceed 

the sustainable rate.

    Because of the emphasis on conservation of female bears, the sex 

ratio of the overharvest must be taken into consideration when a quota 

reduction is necessary. As a result, the reduction is handled 

differently for male versus female bears. Reductions to the quota as a 

result of an overharvest of males occur only when the maximum number of 

females has also been taken or exceeded. The correction for such an 

overharvest is one male for each male overharvested. A correction is 

not made for an overharvest of male bears if the number of females 

taken is less than their sustained yield. The rationale for this 

decision is that although males were overharvested, females were not. 

As a result, those females not harvested will reproduce and compensate 

for the additional males removed from the population. In contrast, when 

an overharvest of females has occurred, the quota reduction is not 

simply one quota tag for each female overharvested. Instead, the sex 

ratio of the harvest must be considered in determining the necessary 

quota reduction for the following year or subsequent years, if 

necessary (GNWT 1996).

    The management agreements identify the steps to be taken to 

implement the flexible quota system. The DRR reviews the harvest data 

of the previous season and identifies any overharvest. Then the 

community HTO's, Regional Wildlife Boards, Wildlife Officers, and 

Regional Managers develop sustainable alternatives to quota reductions, 

if possible. These could include use of credits from that community 

that experienced the overharvest or the borrowing of credits from 

another community that hunts from the same polar bear population. By 

July 1 of each year, the DRR must report the harvest data and quota 

recommendations to the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board (NWMB). The 

NWMB can accept these recommendations or vary them depending on the 

input of the Board and consultation with the communities. They submit 

final recommendations to the Department Minister who must make a final 

decision, taking into consideration the DRR harvest report and NWMB 

recommendations, by August 1 (GNWT).

    The 1996/97 polar bear harvest season was the first in which the 

communities used the Flexible Quota Option. In the first year of 

implementation, all populations were hunted within sustained yield for 

both males and females. Some corrections were made for communities that 

were unable to meet their harvest targets. These corrections included 

use of credits from another community and quota reductions. In 

developing the Flexible Quota Option, the GNWT believed that it would 

be able to accommodate differences in hunting preferences, differences 

in hunting opportunities as a result of weather effects, and would keep 

each population's harvest within sustainable yield (GNWT 1996). 

Although this system of regulating and monitoring the quota is 

considered somewhat less conservative than the previous method, in the 

first year of its use it has shown itself to be more effective at 

achieving a sustainable harvest for all populations.

    As referred to above, there are some less conservative elements to 

the Flexible Quota Option. The first element is the manner in which the 

DRR assigned the initial credit balance. All communities that agreed to 

use the new system entered it with a zero balance of negative credits 

but were allowed to retain their positive credits. These positive 

credits can be used to offset future overharvests. The DRR recognizes 

the inconsistency of this approach but believes that it will not have a 

long term negative effect on the populations and that such an approach 

was necessary to win support for the system. The second element is the 

Flexible Quota Option

[[Page 1535]]

feature that allows unused quota tags to essentially be ``rolled over'' 

to the following year as a positive credit. In the past, unused quota 

tags were not retained into the following year. We recognize, as did 

Testa (1997), that this change could theoretically slow the growth of 

Canadian polar bear populations. However, it should be recalled that 

under the previous system the sex ratio of the harvest was set as a 

target for some populations, including the former Parry Channel-Baffin 

Bay, rather than into regulation (PBSG 1995). The flexible quota system 

does not provide this option. Sex ratios are set into regulations for 

all communities using the flexible quota system, thus providing an 

additional element to conserve female polar bears that was not present 

in the previous system. Given the results to date, we believe that the 

flexible quota system is a reasonable alternative for those communities 

that have had difficulty consistently hunting at a 2:1 ratio. In 

commenting upon the system, Testa (1997) recognized the experimental 

nature of the Flexible Quota Option, but concluded that it was 

conceptually sound and needed a chance to have its wrinkles worked out.

Status of Populations the Service Approves

    The Service approves the Norwegian Bay and Lancaster Sound 

populations as meeting the required findings of section 

104(c)(5)(A)(ii) of the MMPA based on currently available information 

and adds them to the list of approved populations in Sec. 18.30(i).

Norwegian Bay (NW)

    The preliminary population estimate for this new area is 100 with 

fair reliability based on the analysis of data collected from the 

inventory and mark-recapture studies. This population was identified as 

being separate from the Queen Elizabeth Islands population previously 

described in the Service's February 18, 1997, final rule. A harvest 

quota of four bears has been calculated for this population. The quota 

is allocated to the community of Grise Fiord.

    Table 1 provides information on the 5- and 3-year average of the 

harvest in comparison to the sustainable level. These figures were 

calculated retrospectively for Norwegian Bay using harvest data from 

Grise Fiord once a new population estimate was obtained. As is shown in 

the table, the harvest conducted prior to identification of the 

Norwegian Bay population occurred in excess of the sustainable harvest 

level. The community residents of Grise Fiord have agreed to the terms 

of a revised management agreement which includes use of the Flexible 

Quota Option to ensure that future harvests are sustainable and all 

family groups are protected. No females were taken in the 1996/97 

season during the first year of the Flexible Quota Option, and the 

overall harvest was within sustained yield.

Lancaster Sound (LS)

    The GNWT reports a preliminary population estimate of 1,700 with 

good reliability. Based on the new population estimate, a harvest quota 

of 76.5 has been calculated. Three communities, Grise Fiord, Resolute, 

and Arctic Bay, harvest bears from the Lancaster Sound area. All family 

groups are protected in this population. The Service pointed out in the 

February 18, 1997, final rule that the harvest of polar bears from the 

combined Parry Channel-Baffin Bay area had exceeded the quota by more 

than 70 percent over the 5- and 3-year average of harvest results from 

1991 through 1996. This apparent lack of compliance was of concern to 

the Service and was one of the reasons for deferring a decision on the 

area, pending the results of ongoing research and management 

activities. The GNWT has now recalculated previous harvests in the 

Lancaster Sound population based on the separation of the data for the 

former Parry Channel-Baffin Bay area and the new population estimates 

for Lancaster Sound and Baffin Bay. As shown in Table 1, based on the 

most recent data, Lancaster Sound did experience some overharvest over 

a 5- and 3-year average of seasons from 1991 through 1996. However, 

female bears were conserved in that less than 30 percent of the harvest 

was composed of females. This accounts for the lack of change in the 

sustainable harvest over the same time period. These data show that the 

Lancaster Sound population was not overharvested and is being managed 

on a sustainable basis.

    As mentioned above, we consider compliance with quotas as an 

essential part of any management program. The communities have signed a 

new management agreement which includes the use of the Flexible Quota 

Option to help ensure compliance with quotas and correct for 

overharvests if they do occur in the future.

    As described above, under the Flexible Quota Option an overharvest 

of male bears results in a quota reduction only when the harvest of 

female bears has met or exceeded the maximum allowed. The 5-year 

harvest history for the Flexible Quota Option shows the Lancaster Sound 

area had 30 credits for female bears. In contrast, the harvest history 

shows an accumulated debit of 38.5 male bears for the population. It is 

unclear whether the predominance of males in the harvest was due to 

hunter preference or to a greater availability of male bears in this 

area. This emphasis on harvesting male bears from this population by 

one community was relieved, however, to a limited extent by the 

predominance of harvesting females by another community.

Status for Populations for which Scientific and Management Data are 

Not Presently Available for Making a Final Decision

    After reviewing the best available scientific and management data 

on the populations addressed below, the Service is not prepared to make 

a final decision on whether populations of Kane Basin, Baffin Bay, or 

Queen Elizabeth Islands satisfy the statutory criteria of section 

104(c)(5)(A) of the MMPA. As future scientific and management data 

become available on these populations, we will evaluate such data to 

determine whether a proposed rule should be published that would add 

such populations to the approved list in Sec. 18.30(i)(1).

    The NWT shares the Kane Basin, Baffin Bay, and Davis Strait 

populations with Greenland. Greenland does not have an agreement with 

NWT or communities as to how they will manage their portion of the 

populations. The management of polar bears in Greenland rests with the 

Greenland Home Rule Government. There is no limit on the number of 

polar bears taken. Although females with cubs-of-the-year are 

protected, older family groups are harvested. In 1993 Greenland started 

to systematically collect harvest data. In 1994, a harvest 

questionnaire was developed for all species, including polar bears. 

Greenland has experienced difficulties in obtaining complete and 

accurate harvest records, but the collection of data is expected to 

improve as the harvest reporting system becomes better known (GNWT).

    As mentioned above, Greenland and the GNWT have conducted 

cooperative population inventory studies for the past 4 years. The 

brief summary of the January 26, 1997, meeting for the co-management of 

polar bear stocks shared between Greenland and Canada reported that the 

status of polar bears in the shared populations is disturbing. ``It 

appears that the Davis Strait and Baffin Bay populations are being 

depleted by over-harvesting. Additionally, Grise Fiord has identified a 

quota for the Canadian portion of Kane Basin which, if taken, will 

cause this population to decline as well'' (GNWT).

[[Page 1536]]

    The Queen Elizabeth Islands population now contains land only in 

the far northern part of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. No hunting is 

allowed in this area and the population size is unknown. Canada's plans 

for this area are unclear at this time.

Kane Basin (KB)

    Like Norwegian Bay this new population was identified as occupying 

an area formerly considered to be part of the Queen Elizabeth Islands 

population. Unlike the Norwegian Bay population, the Kane Basin 

population is shared with Greenland. The population estimate for this 

area is 200. Management agreements for the NWT portion of Kane Basin 

and Baffin Bay populations are in place that include protection of all 

family groups and use of the Flexible Quota Option. During the 1996/97 

harvest season more than 50 percent of the quota was taken as female 

bears. As a result, under the Flexible Quota Option the quota for this 

population will be reduced to one for the 1997/98 harvest season. As 

long as the 1997/98 quota of one bear is not exceeded and no females 

are taken, the overharvest of females in the 1996/97 season will have 

been compensated for and the quota will return to five (M. Taylor, 

personal communication).

    The Kane Basin population is currently considered stable but a 

single NWT community, Grise Fiord, has a quota for harvesting from the 

Kane Basin population. If this occurs, the population is expected to 

decline since Greenland hunters also harvest from this population. 

Discussions of a co-management agreement between Canada and Greenland 

are expected to be conducted concurrently for the Kane Basin, Baffin 

Bay, and Davis Strait populations.

Baffin Bay (BB)

    The preliminary population estimate for this area is 2,200. The 

combined Parry Channel-Baffin Bay population estimate of 2,470 reported 

in the final rule was derived from the 2,000 estimated for Parry 

Channel (now Lancaster Sound) and 470 from northeastern Baffin Bay. In 

spring the polar bears in the Baffin Bay area are distributed 

throughout Baffin Bay and much of the population is unavailable for 

mark-recapture, leading to underestimates of the population size. For 

this reason the mark-recapture work of the most recent inventory study 

has been conducted in the fall, open water season when Baffin Bay polar 

bears are on shore in Canada (GNWT 1997). Fall 1997 is expected to be 

the last field season required to complete the inventory study. The 

harvest data for this population is presented in Table 1 but should be 

considered preliminary pending harvest information from Greenland. The 

communities of Broughton Island, Clyde River, and Pond Inlet that 

harvest from this population have agreed to a revised management 

agreement which includes protection of all family groups and use of the 

Flexible Quota Option.

    As explained above for the Lancaster Sound population, the GNWT has 

re-examined the population status of past years based on the new 

population estimate. Overharvesting is a problem for this shared 

population. Data from Canadian hunts conducted in the 1996/97 harvest 

season show a total kill substantially below the sustainable harvest 

level, and a harvest sex ratio of nearly 2:1. However, as previously 

described, there is currently no management agreement between Canada 

and Greenland for this shared population and there are concerns that 

the population may be declining.

Queen Elizabeth Islands (QE)

    Recent research data led the GNWT to redefine the boundaries of 

this population. The area was divided into three populations: Kane 

Basin, Norwegian Bay, and Queen Elizabeth Islands. The revised Queen 

Elizabeth Islands population is comprised now of land only in the far 

northern part of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. The population size 

is unknown but it is believed that there are few polar bears in this 

remote area. No hunting is allowed in the area.


    On February 2, 1998, the Service published a proposed rule in the 

Federal Register (63 FR 5340) to announce findings on the import of 

polar bears taken in sport hunts in the areas formerly known as Parry 

Channel-Baffin Bay and Queen Elizabeth Islands, Northwest Territories, 

Canada. Specifically, we reviewed new information and considered 

whether there was now a sport-hunting program in place that was based 

on scientifically sound quotas ensuring the maintenance of the affected 

population stock at a sustainable level. This finding was previously 

deferred in the Service's February 18, 1997, final rule pending the 

outcome of ongoing management and research activities. The Service 

received 14 comments, including 5 form letters, comments from 7 

individuals, and 1 humane organization. Comments were also provided by 

the MMC as part of the consultative process required by the MMPA.

Summary of Comments and Information Received; General Comments

    Issue 1: Several respondents requested that the Service approve the 

Baffin Bay and Kane Basin populations now but postpone the issuance of 

import permits until there is a management agreement in place between 

Canada and Greenland for these shared populations.

    Response: The Service believes management agreements need to be in 

place before we approve a population since they are an essential part 

of co-management of polar bear populations between the resource users 

and government wildlife managers. Although Canadian authorities are 

pursuing development of a joint management agreement with Greenland, 

the content, format, and parties to such an agreement have yet to be 


    Issue 2: The MMC thought the Service should indicate how frequently 

hunters follow and take bears across population boundaries under the 

30-km rule and re-examine the rationale for how population boundaries 

have been set if such movements are not rare.

    Response: The Service does not agree. Harvest data and research, 

including marking and tagging data collected over several years, have 

shown that Canada's polar bear populations are relatively closed with a 

clear core area and minimal overlap. The use of the 30-km rule assists 

Canada in managing bears in areas where the likelihood of overlap is 

greatest. Canada monitors populations, analyzes the data on the 

movement of bears, and anticipates boundaries may change as new 

information on polar bear movements becomes available (USFWS 1997) .

    Issue 3: One commenter stated that the MMPA criteria require the 

findings to be made on the whole of Canada rather than on a population-

by-population basis and that acceptance of qualitative terms to define 

the population estimates is unacceptable.

    Response: These issues were discussed at length in the Service's 

February 18, 1997, final rule. We believe these issues were addressed 

in the development of the regulations and encourage those interested in 

these issues to read the previous final rule.

Comments on the Flexible Quota Option

    Issue 1: The MMC recommended that the Service closely track the 

implementation of the new Flexible Quota Option to ensure that it works 

as expected and that the quotas continue to meet the statutory 


    Response: The Service continues to review new information on 


[[Page 1537]]

polar bear management program, including implementation of the Flexible 

Quota Option. We participate in the PBTC meetings where Canada annually 

reviews its management program for polar bears, which provides us with 

up-to-date information. The regulations allow the Service to 

scientifically review the impact of permits issued on polar bear 

populations to ensure there is no significant adverse impact on the 

sustainability of the Canadian populations. The initial review is to 

occur by March 20, 1999.

    Issue 2: One commenter expressed concern over the Flexible Quota 

Option, stating that it does not comply with the MMPA criteria, is not 

precautionary, maximizes opportunities to hunt, and was politically 

rather than biologically motivated.

    Response: In making its findings under the MMPA, the Service 

considered whether Canada's polar bear management program will ensure 

the sustainability of the affected population stock. The Flexible Quota 

Option was developed in response to problems some communities 

experienced with the previous system. It allows for hunter preference 

in harvesting for a particular sex, and for mistakes in sex 

identification while still providing mechanisms for enforcement of the 

quotas and corrections to the quotas if overharvests occur. The 

Flexible Quota Option does not change how polar bear tags are 

distributed to communities. It does alleviate the need for having two 

separate types of tags (i.e., male only and either sex) that were used 

in the two-tag system. Hunters must still have a tag for each bear 

taken, and tags are distributed to communities based on the community 

quota as previously described in the Service's February 18, 1997, final 

rule (62 FR 7302).

    Repeated harvests in excess of the quota appeared to be a problem 

for communities hunting from the Lancaster Sound and Baffin Bay 

populations under the previous system. In contrast, following its first 

year of use, not one population harvested under the Flexible Quota 

Option experienced an overharvest. Although we acknowledged two aspects 

of the system were less conservative than the previous system (see 

section D), the system can be viewed as being more conservative for 

some populations (e.g., Norwegian Bay, Lancaster Sound, Kane Basin, and 

Baffin Bay). Under the previous system, the sex ratio of the harvest 

was a target goal but was not set in regulation. This presented a 

problem when the overall harvest was within quota but the take of 

female bears exceeded the target ratio. The Flexible Quota Option 

requires harvests to be within quota, and provides a means to ensure 

that the take of female bears remains within sustained yield. 

Communities which take too many females have to either take a quota 

reduction for the following season or compensate by using an accrued 

credit from a previous years underharvest of females. As a result, the 

ability to enforce harvest quotas and the sex ratio of the harvest, if 

needed, has been strengthened by the adoption of the Flexible Quota 

Option. We, along with other experts, recognize that this system is 

based on sound wildlife management practices.

    Issue 3: One commenter claimed that under the Flexible Quota Option 

males could be harvested to the last bear without penalty.

    Response: The Service disagrees. Under the Flexible Quota Option, 

all polar bear harvests and other human-caused kills (i.e., accidental 

deaths as the result of scientific research) must be within quota. 

There are penalties for taking bears in excess of the quota. However, 

unlike the harvest of female bears, hunters are not penalized for 

taking male bears in excess of a 2:1 sex ratio provided the overall 

harvest is still within quota. The reason for this is that for each 

male taken, a female bear is not taken and thus females bears are 

further conserved. The belief is that the take of male bears is offset 

by the conservation of female bears who will in turn produce male 

offspring. In addition, Canada's management program for polar bears 

protects all bears in family groups, including males up to 2 years old. 

The program also includes ways to monitor changes in the population age 

and sex structure (i.e., sample and data collection of the harvest, 

scientific research, and observational data from hunters and 

residents). Canadian wildlife managers and resource users have 

procedures to address population changes accordingly and have used them 

to seek solutions to management concerns in the past (e.g., for the 

Viscount Melville population).

    Issue 4: One commenter disagreed with the Service's statement that 

the Flexible Quota Option had already shown itself to be an effective 

option, and argued that the Service could not judge whether the system 

is effective for a species, such as polar bear, which is long-lived and 

difficult to study.

    Response: The Service agrees that rapid assessment of the long term 

effectiveness of a quota system is not possible for polar bear. The 

Service's comment was meant to recognize the new Flexible Quota Option 

as an effective alternative to the previous system, not assess the 

effectiveness of the system long term. We have changed the text in this 

final rule to better reflect this.

    Issue 5: The same commenter remarked that the Service's discussion 

of J. Ward Testa's report on the Flexible Quota Option ignored the 

caveats in the report, and criticized the Service for interpreting 

Testa's remarks as giving ``blanket approval'' to the Flexible Quota 

Option . The commenter also recommended that the Service postpone 

approval of Lancaster Sound and any population using the Flexible Quota 

Option until all the ``wrinkles'' are worked out.

    Response: The Service believes Testa's report was accurately 

summarized in the proposed rule, but has added text to the final rule 

to clarify our summary. Although Testa recognized the experimental 

nature of the Flexible Quota Option, he concluded that it was 

conceptually sound and needed a chance to have its wrinkles worked out. 

The Service agrees with this assessment, believes that the system has a 

solid theoretical and biological basis--while being flexible and 

pragmatic--and therefore, approved populations that use the Flexible 

Quota Option.

Comments Specific to Lancaster Sound and Norwegian Bay

    Issue 1: The MMC noted that data in Table 1 appears to indicate 

that the actual harvest levels in Lancaster Sound and Norwegian Bay may 

have exceeded the sustainable harvest in previous years. They believe 

the Service should not approve these populations retroactively unless 

the Service has determined that Canada's management program was based 

on scientifically sound quotas ensuring the maintenance of the affected 

population at a sustainable level at the time the bear was taken.

    Response: As discussed by the Service in the February 18, 1997, 

final rule, the MMPA specifically uses the present tense in the 

findings--``Canada has a monitored and enforced sport-hunting program 

consistent with the purposes of the Agreement on the Conservation of 

Polar Bears.'' There is no other reference in the MMPA amendment that 

provides for the findings for trophies taken in the past to be based on 

the program at the time of taking. The Service has already indicated 

that bears may be imported from previously deferred populations once 

that population is approved as meeting all of the MMPA criteria for 


    Issue 2: The MMC recommended that the Service explain how we 


[[Page 1538]]

that past take levels have been sustainable and why we believe it is 

not indicative of possible management problems at least in past years.

    Response: The Service did not state, nor does it believe, that 

harvests in excess of the quotas may not be indicative of a management 

problem. It was for this reason, in part, that the Service did not 

approve the former Parry Channel (now Lancaster Sound) and Baffin Bay 

populations in the February 18, 1997, rulemaking. As discussed in the 

previous response, the Service is making a finding on the current 

management program in accordance with the MMPA amendment, not on 

whether the past take levels have been sustainable.

    Issue 3: One commenter criticized the Service for not providing 

convincing biological information in the rule to support the creation 

of the Lancaster Sound population.

    Response: The Service's role is to review Canada's polar bear 

management program to make the findings outlined in the MMPA. Under 

Canada's current management program, Lancaster Sound and Norwegian Bay 

are identified as separate polar bear populations. We summarized 

information on the methods used by Canada to determine and review 

populations in the February 18, 1997, final rule and earlier in this 

rule, citing published and unpublished reports and papers. Detailed 

information, including the number of bears marked, the sex and age-

class of marked bears, and descriptions of the methods used to analyze 

the data can be found in these references, which are available from the 


    Issue 4: The same commenter criticized the Service's proposed 

decision to approve Lancaster Sound in that it ``appears highly suspect 

because management stats indicate it has been sport-hunted heavily, 

boundary changes have eliminated any overlap with Greenland, and the 

dramatic over-harvest has been eliminated for Lancaster Sound by 

redrawing the boundaries''.

    Response: Canada has recognized the Lancaster Sound and Baffin Bay 

populations as separate for many years with the boundary of Lancaster 

Sound far removed from Greenland. The Service treated these populations 

as a single unit for the purpose of the Service's February 18, 1997, 

final rule because the exact boundary separating the two populations 

had not been defined pending ongoing research results. The results of 

the research (GNWT 1997) provided substantial new information which 

allowed Canada to delineate the new boundary and the Service to approve 

Lancaster Sound population for the import of sport-hunted trophies 

under the MMPA.

Comments on the RISKMAN Program

    Issue 1: The MMC recommended that the Service conduct its own 

evaluation of Canada's new risk assessment computer program--RISKMAN--

and advise the MMC of the results.

    Response: The RISKMAN program is one aspect of the Northwest 

Territories Management Program for polar bears. Under the MMPA, the 

Service is to determine whether Canada has an overall polar bear 

management program based on scientifically sound quotas to ensure the 

maintenance of affected population stock at a sustainable level. We 

believe the development of this program demonstrates Canada's pursuit 

of a management program based on the best available scientific data, 

and that Canada's presentation of this program in an international 

forum optimizes the opportunity for critical review and input from the 

scientific community. Therefore, we do not believe that an independent 

evaluation of RISKMAN by the Service is warranted.

    Issue 2: One commenter stated that the Service must re-evaluate its 

decision to approve Lancaster Sound since the Canadian Wildlife Service 

(CWS) indicated during a presentation of the RISKMAN program that data 

must be more precise and more frequently collected to maintain high 

confidence in current harvest levels.

    Response: The Service disagrees. RISKMAN models the effects of 

harvest and other removals on the subject population. It is an 

individual based model and operates most effectively with extensive, 

detailed population and harvest data. RISKMAN is a valuable tool for 

managers to help monitor the consequences of removals upon the 

population and to refocus management efforts, if needed. Its intended 

use is to assist Canada in improving its management programs for polar 

bears and other bear species. The conclusions made by the CWS based on 

RISKMAN do not indicate that the current management program does not 

meet the requirements of the MMPA.

Required Determinations

    This final rule was not subject to review by the Office of 

Management and Budget (OMB) under Executive Order 12866. A review under 

the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as amended (5 U.S.C. 601 et 

seq.) has revealed that this rulemaking would not have a significant 

economic effect on a substantial number of small entities, which 

include businesses, organizations, and governmental jurisdictions. The 

proposal will affect a relatively small number of U.S. hunters who have 

hunted, or intend to hunt, polar bear in Canada. Allowing the import of 

legally taken sport trophies, while maintaining the restriction on the 

sale of trophies and related products, will provide direct benefits to 

individual sport hunters and a probable small beneficial effect for 

U.S. outfitters and transportation services as U.S. hunters travel to 

Canada. If each year an estimated 50 U.S. citizens hunted a polar bear 

in Canada at an approximate cost of $21,000, then $1,050,000 would be 

expected to be spent, mostly in Canada. It is expected that the 

majority of taxidermy services will be provided in Canada. Since the 

trophies are for personal use and may not be sold in the United States, 

there are no expected market, price, or competitive effects adverse to 

U.S. business interests. The $1000.00 fee collected from each U.S. 

hunter upon issuance of a trophy import permit is used for the 

management of the shared U.S./Russian Federation polar bear population 

as required by the MMPA, and does not affect U.S. business interests.

    This final rule is not a major rule under 5 U.S.C. 804(2), the 

Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act, and will not 

negatively affect the economy, consumer costs, or U.S.-based 

enterprises. The groups most affected by this rule are a relatively 

small number of U.S. sport hunters who choose to hunt polar bear in 

Canada, and a comparatively small number of U.S. outfitters, 

taxidermists, and personnel who provide transportation services for 

travel from the United States to Canada.

    The Service has determined and certified pursuant to the Unfunded 

Mandates Reform Act, 2 U.S.C. 1502 et seq., that this rulemaking will 

not impose a cost of $100 million or more in any given year on local or 

State governments or private entities.

    The Service has determined that the rule has no potential takings 

of private property implications as defined in Executive Order 12630.

    The rule will not have substantial direct effects on the States, in 

their relationship with the Federal Government or on the distribution 

of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government. 

Therefore, in accordance with Executive Order 12612, the Service has 

determined that the rule does not have significant Federalism 

implications to warrant the preparation of a Federalism Assessment.

    In accordance with Executive Order 12988, the Department has 


[[Page 1539]]

that the rule does not unduly burden the judicial system and meets the 

requirements of Sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of the Order.

    The Office of Management and Budget has approved the collection of 

information contained in this final rule as required by the Paperwork 

Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.), and has assigned clearance 

number 1018-0093 which expires on February 28, 2001. The Service will 

collect information through the use of the Service's form 3-200-45. The 

likely respondents will be sport hunters who wish to import trophies of 

polar bears taken while hunting in Canada. The Service will use the 

information to review permit applications and make decisions, according 

to criteria established in statutes and regulations, on the issuance or 

denial of permits. The applicant must respond to obtain a permit. A 

single response is required to obtain a benefit. The Service estimates 

the public reporting burden for this collection of information to vary 

from 15 minutes to 1.5 hours per response, with an average of 30 

minutes per response, including the time for reviewing instructions, 

searching existing data sources, gathering and maintaining the data 

needed, and completing and reviewing the collection of information. The 

estimated number of likely respondents is less than 150, yielding a 

total annual reporting burden of 75 hours or less.

    The Service prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) on the final 

rule published in the Federal Register (62 FR 7302) on February 18, 

1997, in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) 

and concluded in a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) based on a 

review and evaluation of the information contained within the EA that 

there would be no significant impact on the human environment as a 

result of this regulatory action and that the preparation of an 

environmental impact statement on this action is not required by 

Section 102(2) of NEPA or its implementing regulations. Based on the 

review of current information and comments received on the February 2, 

1998, proposed rule, the Service has determined that this EA is still 

current. The FONSI has been revised to reflect the regulatory actions 

taken by the Service to approve the Lancaster Sound and Norwegian Bay 

polar bear populations for issuance of permits to import personal 

sport-hunted polar bear trophies. The issuance of individual marine 

mammal permits is categorically excluded under 516 DM6, Appendix 1.

    The Service has evaluated possible effects on Federally recognized 

Tribes and determined that there will be no adverse effects to any 


References Cited

    Bethke, R., M. Taylor, F. Messier, and S.E. Amstrup. 1996. 

Population delineation of polar bears using satellite collar data. 

Ecol. Appl. 6:311-317.

    GNWT, Department of Renewable Resources. 1996. Report prepared 

for the Polar Bear Technical Committee Meet., no. 25, 12 pp.

    GNWT, Department of Resources, Wildlife, and Economic 

Development. 1997. Report prepared for the Polar Bear Technical 

Meet., no. 26, 11 pp.

    GNWT, Department of Resources, Wildlife, and Economic 

Development. 1998. Report prepared for the Polar Bear Technical 

Meet., no. 27, 42 pp.

    Paetkau, D., W. Calvert, I. Stirling, and C. Strobeck. 1995. 

Microsatellite analysis of population structure in Canadian polar 

bears. Mol. Ecol. 4:347-354.

    PBSG, The World Conservation Union. 1995. Polar Bears. Proc, 

Eleventh Working Meet. IUCN/SSC PBSG Jan. 25-28, 1993, Copenhagen, 

Denmark. O.Wiig, E.W. Born, and G.W. Garner, eds. Occas. Pap. IUCN 

Spec. Surv. Comm. No. 10. Gland, Switzerland.

    PBSG, The World Conservation Union. 1997. Resolutions from the 

Twelfth Working Meet. IUCN/SSC PBSG Feb. 3-7, 1997.

    Taylor, M.K., D.P. DeMaster, F.L. Bunnell, and R.E. 

Schweinsburg. 1987. Modeling the sustainable harvest of female polar 

bears. J. Wildl. Manage. 51:811-820.

    Testa, J.W. 1997. Importation of Polar Bear Trophies from Canada 

under the 1994 Amendments to the Marine Mammal Protection Act. 

Report prepared for the Marine Mammal Commission, Washington, D.C. 9 


    USFWS (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service). 1997. Importation of 

Polar Bear Trophies from Canada under the 1994 Amendments to the 

Marine Mammal Protection Act; Final Rule. 62 FR 7301. 31 pp.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 18

    Administrative practice and procedure, Alaska, Imports, Indians, 

Marine mammals, Oil and gas exploration, Reporting and recordkeeping 

requirements, Transportation.

Regulation Promulgation

    Accordingly, the Service hereby amends Part 18 of chapter I of 

Title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations to read as follows:


    1. The authority citation for part 18 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.

    2. Amend Sec. 18.30 by revising paragraph (i)(1) introductory text 

to read as follows:

Sec. 18.30  Polar Bear sport-hunted trophy import permits.

* * * * *

    (i) Findings. * * *

    (1) We have determined that the Northwest Territories, Canada, has 

a monitored and enforced sport-hunting program that meets issuance 

criteria of paragraphs (d) (4) and (5) of this section for the 

following populations: Southern Beaufort Sea, Northern Beaufort Sea, 

Viscount Melville Sound (subject to the lifting of the moratorium in 

this population), Western Hudson Bay, M'Clintock Channel, Lancaster 

Sound, and Norwegian Bay, and that:

* * * * *

    Dated: December 16, 1998.

Stephen C. Saunders,

Acting Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.

[FR Doc. 99-473 Filed 1-8-99; 8:45 am]