Marine Mammals Management
Alaska Region


Polar Bear

Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears
(Range States Agreement)

In 1973, Canada, Denmark (Greenland), Norway, the Soviet Union, and the United States (collectively referred to as “the Range States”) met and signed the Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears (commonly referred to as “the Range States Agreement”). The Agreement was created due to concern over the dramatic increase in polar bear harvest levels, largely as a result of sport hunting, and calls for cooperative international management and protection of polar bears. Each country agreed to take appropriate action to protect the ecosystems of which polar bears are a part, and to manage polar bear populations in accordance with sound conservation practices based on the best available scientific data. In addition, that Agreement allows for traditional harvest of polar bears by local people using traditional methods, but request additional protections for polar bear family groups and denning bears.
The Range States adopted a 10-year Circumpolar Action Plan (CAP) in 2015. The CAP builds on international cooperation to conserve polar bears across their range. The vision of the CAP is to secure the long-term persistence of polar bears in the wild that represent the genetic, behavioral, and ecological diversity of the species. This vision cannot be achieved without adequate mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions by the global community. The objectives of the CAP are to:

  • Minimize threats to polar bears and their habitat;
  • Communicate to the public, policy makers, and legislators around the world the importance of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions to polar bear conservation;
  • Ensure the preservation and protection of essential habitat for polar bears;
  • Ensure responsible harvest management systems today that will sustain polar bear subpopulation for future generation;
  • Manage human-bear interactions to ensure human safety and to minimize polar bear injury or mortality; and,
  • Ensure that international legal trade of polar bears is carried out according to conservation principles and that poaching and illegal trade is curtailed.

Additional information can be found at the Polar Bear Range States web page


Last updated: December 2017