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Polar bear (Ursus maritimus)

Polar Bear
Polar Bear (Photo: Ian Stirling)

Alaska is home to two discrete stocks of polar bears: the western or Chukchi/Bering Seas stock, shared with Russia, and the southern Beaufort Sea stock, shared with Canada. In addition, there are several other stocks that occur throughout the Arctic in Canada, Greenland, Norway, and Russia. Polar bears can traverse vast territories, often crossing over borders and into international waters. The southern Beaufort Sea stock numbers about 1,800 animals. Although an accurate estimate of the size of the Chukchi/Bering Seas stock is not currently available, U.S. officials charged with polar bear conservation are using a figure of 2,000 to 5,000 animals as their best estimate. Worldwide polar bear numbers have been estimated at 21,000 to 28,000 animals.

Range and Habitat:

Circumpolar distribution along coastal areas and islands of the arctic

Status under Law:

Not listed

Conservation issues:

Subsistence harvests, oil and gas exploration and development, oil spills, contaminants, management of sport hunts, management for public display, international collaboration.

Physical characteristics:

At Birth At Maturity
Length unavailable 2.1-2.6 m
Weight .6 kg
(1.25 lb)
300-800 kg
(660-1,800 lb)


30 years

Annual Report:

For more information, see the Polar Bear section from the 2000 Annual Report

Download a copy: PDF (137 KB)

Additional Links:

National Marine Fisheries Service Stock Assessment Reports

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service – Marine Mammals Management – Polar Bear

National Park Service – Polar Bear

Alaska Department of Fish & Game – Polar Bear


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