Marine Mammals Management
Alaska Region


Polar Bear

Scientific Working Group of the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Agreement


Polar Bear on Shore.  Photo Credit: Eric V. Regher

Polar Bear on shore. Photo Credit: Eric V. Regehr(USFWS)

In 2000, the Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Russian Federation on the Conservation and Management of the Alaska-ChukotkaPolar Bear Population (hereafter the “U.S.-Russia Bilateral Agreement”) was signed establishing a four-member U.S.-Russia Polar Bear Commission (hereafter the “Commission”), consisting of a federal and Native representative from each country. The Commission is responsible for making management decisions for the Alaska-Chukotka (AC) polar bear population, which is shared between the U.S. and Russia (also referred to as the “Chukchi Sea” polar bear subpopulation by the Polar Bear Specialist Group of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, noting that management boundaries of the Alaska-Chukotka population and Chukchi Sea subpopulation are somewhat different).  

The U.S.-Russia Bilateral Agreement also established a Scientific Working Group (SWG) that is responsible for providing expert advice to the Commission on the basis of science and Traditional Knowledge. The SWG exists to help the Commission meet the dual goals of conserving and protecting the AC polar bear population, and of providing opportunities for sustainable subsistence use by Native people in a manner consistent with national laws, as specified by the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Agreement.  

The SWG consists of American and Russian co-chairs, plus up to seven members from each country. Members are selected and confirmed by the Commission on the basis of having scientific or traditional knowledge of polar bear biology, habitat, or wildlife management; and of having a direct and active role in research, management, or conservation of the AC polar bear population.

SWG membership (as of July 2018)

  • American members
    • Ryan Wilson, co-chair (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
    • Andrew Von Duyke (North Slope Borough)
    • Clyde Oxereok (Native Village of Wales)
    • James Wilder (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
    • Karyn Rode (U.S. Geological Survey)
    • Lori Polasek (Alaska Department of Fish and Game)
    • Billy Adams (North Slope Borough)
    • Eric Regehr (University of Washington)
  • Russian members
    • Stanislav Belikov, co-chair (All-Russian Research Institute of Nature Protection)
    • Anatoly Kochnev  (Chukotka Federal Fisheries Research Institute)
    • Andrei Boltunov (Marine Mammal Council of Russia)
    • Egor Vereschchagin (Chukotka Administration)
    • Ilia Mordvinstev (Russian Academy of Sciences)
    • Nikita Ovsyanikov (independent biologist)
    • Sergey Galyagirgin (Union of Marine Hunters of Chukotka)
    • Fedor Rul'tynje (Regional public organization Umky-patrol)

SWG documents

For questions or comments please contact the American co-chair of the SWG:

Ryan Wilson, Ph.D.
Marine Mammals Management, Polar Bears
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
1011 E. Tudor Rd., MS341
Anchorage, AK 99503

Office Phone: (907) 786-3830



Last updated: October 2018