Polar bear (Ursus maritimus)

Federal Register | Recovery | Critical Habitat | Conservation Plans | Petitions | Life History

Listing Status:   

Where Listed: WHEREVER FOUND

General Information

Polar bears are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which prohibits the take (i.e., harass, hunt, capture, or kill) of all marine mammals. Please click the link provided after "For more information" to access the Service’s Marine Mammals Management Polar Bear website. Throughout the Arctic, polar bears are known by a variety of common names, including nanook, nanuq, ice bear, sea bear, isbjorn, white bears, and beliy medved. Genetic research has confirmed that polar bears evolved from grizzly (brown) bears (Ursus arctos) 250 to 300 thousand years ago (Cronin et al. 1991, p. 2990; Talbot and Shields 1996a, p. 574). Only in portions of northern Canada and northern Alaska do the ranges of polar bears and grizzly bears overlap. Polar bears are the largest of the living bear species. Polar bears are carnivorous and an upper level predator of the Arctic marine ecosystem. Polar bears prey heavily throughout their range on ringed seals (Phoca hispida) and, to a lesser extent, bearded seals (Erignathus barbatus) and in some locales, other seal species. Polar bears are characterized by a late age at sexual maturity, small litter sizes, and extended parental investment in raising young, factors that combine to contribute to a very low reproductive rate. Reproduction in the female polar bear is similar to that in other ursids (bears). Females generally mature and breed for the first time at 4 or 5 years and give birth at 5 or 6 years of age. Litters of two cubs are most common, but litters of three cubs are seen sporadically across the Arctic.

  • States/US Territories in which the Polar bear, Entire is known to or is believed to occur:  Alaska
  • US Counties in which the Polar bear, Entire is known to or is believed to occur:  View All
  • USFWS Refuges in which the Polar bear, Entire is known to occur:  Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
  • Countries in which the the Polar bear, Entire is known to occur:  Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia
  • Additional species information
 
Current Listing Status Summary
Status Date Listed Lead Region Where Listed
05/15/2008 Alaska Region (Region 7) Entire

» Federal Register Documents

Federal Register Documents
Date Citation Page Title
10/06/2010 75 FR 61631 61638 Marine Mammal Protection Act Deterence Guidelines
12/16/2008 73 FR 76249 76269 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Special Rule for the Polar Bear
09/20/2007 72 FR 53749 53751 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Petition Finding and Proposed Rule To List the Polar Bear (Ursus Maritimus) as Threatened Throughout Its RangeReopening of comment period; notice of availability of new information.
10/29/2009 74 FR 56058 56086 Designation of Critical Habitat for the Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) in the United States; Proposed Rule
05/17/2006 71 FR 28653 28654 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Petition To List the Polar Bear as Threatened; Status review; reopening of public comment period.
01/30/2012 77 FR 4492 4493 Reissuance of Interim Special Rule for the Polar Bear: Final rule.
05/15/2008 73 FR 28212 28303 Determination of Threatened Status for the Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) Throughout Its Range; Final Rule
07/06/2015 80 FR 38458 38459 Notice of Availability of Draft Polar Bear Conservation Management Plan
12/30/2009 74 FR 69139 69143 Marine Mammal Protection Act; Stock Assessment Report: Notice of availability of final 2009 revised marine mammal stock assessment reports for the Pacific walrus stock and two stocks of polar bears; response to comments.
06/07/2016 81 FR 36663 36701 Marine Mammals; Incidental Take During Specified Activities; Proposed Rule
05/05/2010 75 FR 24545 24549 Designation of Critical Habitat for the Polar Bear in the United States: Proposed rule; reopening of comment period, and announcement of public hearings.
01/09/2007 72 FR 1064 1099 12-Month Petition Finding and Proposed Rule To List the Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) as Threatened Throughout Its Range; Proposed Rule
12/07/2010 75 FR 76086 76137 Designation of Critical Habitat for the Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) in the United States; Final Rule
02/15/2007 72 FR 7381 7382 12-Month Petition Finding and Proposed Rule To List the Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) as Threatened Throughout Its Range:Proposed rule; notice of public informational meetings and public hearings.
04/19/2012 77 FR 23432 23449 Special Rule for the Polar Bear: Proposed rule; availability of draft environmental assessment.
06/12/2013 78 FR 35363 35427 Marine Mammal Protection Act; Incidental Take Regulations; Final Rule
02/09/2006 71 FR 6745 6746 Petition To List the Polar Bear as Threatened: Notice of 90-day petition finding, substantial and initiation of status review.
10/13/2015 80 FR 61443 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Initiation of a 5-Year Review of the Polar Bear
10/05/2007 72 FR 56979 56980 12-Month Petition Finding and Proposed Rule To List the Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) as Threatened Throughout Its Range
12/06/2007 72 FR 69034 69106 Review of Native Species That Are Candidates for Listing as Endangered or Threatened; Annual Notice of Findings on Resubmitted Petitions; Annual Description of Progress on Listing Actions; Proposed Rule
02/20/2013 78 FR 11766 11788 Special Rule for the Polar Bear Under Section 4(d) of the Endangered Species Act
05/15/2008 73 FR 28306 28318 Special Rule for the Polar Bear; Interim Final Rule
Special Rule Publications
Date Citation Page Title
05/15/2008 73 FR 28306 28318 Special Rule for the Polar Bear; Interim Final Rule
04/19/2012 77 FR 23432 23449 Special Rule for the Polar Bear: Proposed rule; availability of draft environmental assessment.
02/20/2013 78 FR 11766 11788 Special Rule for the Polar Bear Under Section 4(d) of the Endangered Species Act
12/16/2008 73 FR 76249 76269 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Special Rule for the Polar Bear

» Recovery

Current Recovery Plan(s)
Date Title Plan Action Status Plan Status
07/08/2015 Polar Bear Draft Conservation Management Plan Recovery efforts in progress, but no implementation information yet to display Conservation Strategy
Other Recovery Documents
Date Citation Page Title Document Type
07/06/2015 80 FR 38458 38459 Notice of Availability of Draft Polar Bear Conservation Management Plan
  • Notice Doc. Availability

» Critical Habitat

Date Citation Page Title Document Type Status
12/07/2010 75 FR 76086 76137 Designation of Critical Habitat for the Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) in the United States; Final Rule Final Rule Not Required
10/29/2009 74 FR 56058 56086 Designation of Critical Habitat for the Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) in the United States; Proposed Rule Proposed Rule Not Required

To learn more about critical habitat please see http://ecos.fws.gov/crithab

» Conservation Plans

No conservation plans have been created for Polar bear.

» Petitions

» Life History

No Life History information has been entered into this system for this species.

» Other Resources

NatureServe Explorer Species Reports -- NatureServe Explorer is a source for authoritative conservation information on more than 50,000 plants, animals and ecological communtities of the U.S and Canada. NatureServe Explorer provides in-depth information on rare and endangered species, but includes common plants and animals too. NatureServe Explorer is a product of NatureServe in collaboration with the Natural Heritage Network.

ITIS Reports -- ITIS (the Integrated Taxonomic Information System) is a source for authoritative taxonomic information on plants, animals, fungi, and microbes of North America and the world.

FWS Digital Media Library -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Digital Library is a searchable collection of selected images, historical artifacts, audio clips, publications, and video.