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Decisions Informed by the USGS Changing Arctic Ecosystems Initiative

Incidental Take Regulations for Polar Bears and Pacific Walrus for the Chukchi Sea issued June 12, 2013

On June 12, 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued regulations authorizing incidental take of small numbers of Pacific walruses and polar bears during oil and gas industry exploration activities in the Chukchi Sea.  The regulations were issued in accordance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

The regulations designate the “Hanna Shoal Walrus Use Area” (page 35371), noting that the Hanna Shoal region has long been recognized as a critical foraging area for walruses in summer and fall.  The Hanna Shoal Walrus Use Area was delineated using walrus foraging and occupancy utilization distributions from Jay et al. (2012)  for June through September.

Jay, C. V., A. S. Fischbach, and A. A. Kochnev. 2012. Walrus areas of use in the Chukchi Sea during sparse sea ice cover. Marine Ecology Progress Series 468:1-13. doi:10.3354/meps10057 [Details] [Full Publication]

Walrus on the ice in the sun - photo by Jen Wiley, USGSPolar bear swimming in waters near walrus haulouts - video still by Tyrone Donnelly, USGS

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