Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Washington
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Washington Project

Assessing the precision of estimates of population vital rates for polar bears in Alaska

November 2019 - May 2021


Participating Agencies

  • Alaska Science Center

Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) are a trust species managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and protected under the Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act, and the ability to monitor these animals is key to status assessment and management. Polar bears in the Southern Beaufort Sea (SBS) subpopulation occur in areas of increasing Arctic development and rapidly changing habitat conditions, increasing the importance of high-quality monitoring data. We are collaborating with the Applied Physics Laboratory at University of Washington and the USGS Alaska Science Center to complete a power analysis to determine the statistical power to detect changes in survival and abundance under various monitoring designs. Using this information, the U.S. and Canada will be better able to identify cost-effective monitoring approaches for the SBS at a time when sampling the subpopulation is becoming increasingly difficult.