Manage human-bear interactions to ensure human safety and to minimize polar bear injury or mortality


Objective Lead:  

Karen Lone (Norwegian Environment Agency, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

Actions associated with Objective 5 in the 2020-2023 Implmentation Plan

(see top-left sidebar for further information on the actions)

HBC-A1: Make available to all Range States the Polar Bear Human Information Management System (PBHIMS); use SMART where possible

HBCIS-2: Make available on the RS website Bear deterrent training protocols from the U.S., Canada, and Norway

HBC-A3: Establish baseline for bear injuries and deaths using existing data from 2020

HBC-A4: Establish baseline for human injuries and deaths using existing data from 2006-2015

HBC-A5: Report findings on human-bear conflicts which end in injury or death (to bears or humans) annually on the RS website for each country or subpopulation

HBC-A6: Develop standardized polar bear attack response protocols

HBC-A7: Develop, and post to the RS website, core polar bear safety messages for a general audience and more detailed guidelines for specific user groups (e.g., industry, guide-led tourist groups, hunting/subsistence camps, researchers) as needed

Polar Bear threats linked to the Objective and how the Objective’s Actions will address them:  

Human-bear conflicts

Levels of the Threats:    Medium 

Expected impact (outcome) of the Objective:   

The short-term impact of this objective is to provide a common understanding on the level and location of polar bear – human interactions and safety risks associated with such interactions through a standardized data collection approach and reporting. In the short- and medium-term, the public will be able to access the recommended best management practices to address increased bear -human interactions safely and to prevent an escalation of conflict.  In the long-term, these actions will provide the possibility to reduce bear-human interactions and negative outcomes to a level that does not threaten the long-term survival of polar bears driven by this possible threat.

How the progress toward the Objective will be evaluated:  

Change in the number of bears injured or killed in conflict situations and in the number of humans injured or killed by bears, compared to the baseline.    

Performance Metrics:   

1. Number of bears injured or killed in conflict situations. 
2. Number of humans injured or killed in conflict situations.
3. Number of human-bear conflicts resolved without injury or death, within reference locations where these data are collected over time [1]

[1] Performance metric 3 is not currently reported in all locations; however the required data are included in the minimum standards guidance agreed upon by the Range States. Several Range States have or are in the process of establishing systematic collection of the required information in remote communities and other locations where logistical or other challenges exist.

Baseline of Performance Metrics:   

Work ongoing to establish the following baselines by the end of 2020:

1.  Bears injuries and deaths needs to be defined using 2020 as the baseline year to minimize bias due to underreporting in the past.
2. Human injuries or deaths as reported in the 2006-2015 time period (Wilder et al. 2017)
3. Baseline for PM3 is not established yet.

Work ongoing to establish baselines for 1 and 2 by April 2021.

1.  Bears injuries and deaths needs to be defined using 2020 as the baseline year to minimize bias due to underreporting in the past.
2. Human injuries or deaths as reported in the 2006-2015 time period (Wilder et al. 2017)
3. Baseline for PM3 is not established yet. 

Liaison with other CAP-Objectives:   

Objective 1:  Track and reduce emerging threats to polar bears – possibility of emerging threats that may bring with them increasing conflict level.

Liaison with external bodies

(i.e. organizations, communities, stakeholders, expert groups, etc.):   

SMART Conservation Partnership:  provides software and implementation training – open source software, the organization is large, established developers that collaborate with many governments and institutions. However, it does add complexity to organization of the work that will be done in HBC-A1, and some risk that items that are high-priority for us to have implemented are not prioritized by our SMART collaborators unless a budget is provided to add a design component in the software.

Getting sufficient input and involvement from communities and stakeholders, to secure representation and legitimacy to the work coming out of the WG.

Members of the CWG have personal and professional links to various external bodies/forums that help the CWG stay informed and connected to other experts:International Bear Association, IUCN specialist group on PB or bears in general, IUCN human – wildlife conflict working group.

Attempt to establish liaison with tourism associations like AECOin the work with specific actions - to implement standards such as incident collection, safety messages, etc.

Industry associations such as Oil and Gas safety bodies to implement BMPs on avoiding conflict.

Expected dissemination of Deliverables and Outcome to stakeholders

(public, policy makers, legislators etc.):   

Information will mainly be made available to the public and to the Range States through the Range States website. Specific deliverables may be disseminated in other ways (for instance SMART-PBHIMS).

The degree of influence depends on the degree to which the products from the work in the CWG under Objective 5 in the CAP areshared and put to use in each individual Range State, by CWG members or entities/organizations that we are in touch with.

Potential Challenges and how they will be addressed (mitigation actions)[1]:  

Lack of involvement from all Range States is a potentially severe challenge for several of the actions (specifically A3, A4 and A5 – baselines and reporting of performance metrics) that require involvement from all Range States. Likelihood (4) x Negative impact (5) = 20. 

Additionally, securing sufficient stakeholder involvement and making sure the work in Objective 5 makes a difference "on the ground". The CWG also faces the challenge of having high member participation to remain an active and relevant forum for information sharing and collaboration on all aspects of conflict, as the need arises.

That output from the group is adapted by stakeholders, circulated and put to use in or by the Range States, is also a critical step for the work under Objective 5 to have real impact and to achieve the wanted outcome. Likelihood 3 x Negative impact (5) = 15

[1] The level of challenge may be estimated by multiplying the level of likelihood (scale 1-5) by the negative impact it may have (scale 1-5). Minor: 1-10, Moderate: 11-15; Severe: 16-25.