What We Do

From a regulatory standpoint, we work closely with industries and other entities to prevent and mitigate adverse impacts of human activities on Pacific walrus, polar bears, and northern sea otters in Alaska, prevent adverse impacts to subsistence use of these species, and promote human safety in polar bear country. A significant component of this work is the issuance of incidental take authorizations (ITAs) under sections 101(a)(5)(A) and 101(a)(5)(D) of the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Our work includes the regulation of offshore and coastal economic development activities to ensure compliance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act and all other relevant laws and regulations; and application of the most current biological information in regulatory decisions.

Our Programs

Within our office, we have staff covering the following programmatic areas: regulatory issues; polar bears; northern sea otters and walruses; and marking/tagging/reporting (see menu to left). 

Our Services

  • Provide technical assistance and share resources on how to avoid take of polar bears, northern sea otters, or Pacific walrus. 
  • Issue incidental harassment authorizations (IHAs) that authorize incidental take by harassment of marine mammals for up to a one-year period.
  • Promulgate incidental take regulations (ITRs) that authorize incidental take of marine mammals for up to a five-year period, and issue associated incidental take Letters of Authorization (LOAs) to specific entities. 
  • Issue Letters of Authorization that authorize intentional harassment (hazing) of polar bears.
  • Provide polar bear awareness, safety, and deterrence training.

Quick Links

ITAs - Application Instructions

Letter of Authorization Requests

Our Projects and Research

A polar bear walks across ice, with the shore in the background.

This project works to improve public safety and conserve polar bears by reducing and mitigating negative interactions between bears and people. Community-based conservation has a demonstrated history of success in Alaska, and the Service continues to work closely with communities and partners to...

View from inside an empty polar bear den dug into the snow, looking out through the entrance hole toward the white sky.

The time between when polar bears emerge from their den in the spring until they depart the den site is likely an important period for cub development and acclimation to conditions outside the den, but little is known about the duration of this period at dens that have not been impacted by human...

A polar bear has black eyes and nose, and small ears, in a thick pelt of white fur.

Indices of body condition in wildlife can serve as valuable indicators of population health, and often provide insights into reproductive success and survival. We are partnering with the National Park Service to test and validate multiple methods for noninvasively estimating body mass of bears,...

A white polar bear prowls the snowy Alaska coast at Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

With the approval of oil and gas leasing in the 1002 Area of Alaska, the Service initiated a study to estimate the potential impacts of a late summer, near-shore oil spill on polar bears. We simulated oil spills at three locations along the 1002 Area coastline in late summer/early autumn and...

Our Laws and Regulations

We are guided by the Marine Mammal Protection Act and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Regulations for Incidental Take (50 CFR § 18.27)