Alaska Polar Bear

Alaska Hunting
Backcountry  Custom  Taxidermy
Bows, Firearms, Cartridge, and Ammunition for Hunting Alaska:

The rifle you bring hunting should be one with which you are comfortable. many hunters have been convinced that a .300, .338, .375, or .416 magnum is needed for personal protection and to take large Alaska game. This is simply not true.

1.Rifle/handgun: State regulations require that rifles and handguns must fire a 200-grain or larger bullet, which retains at least 2000 foot-pounds of energy at 100 yards. A .30-06 with a 220-grain bullet is about the minimal weapon that meets this specification. Please do not bring your favorite firearm and expect to use it if it does not meet the above criteria. 

2.Muzzleloader: Muzzle-loading rifles must be .54 caliber or larger, or at least .45 caliber with a 250-grain or larger elongated slug. Further, for safety reasons, those hunting with muzzleloaders must also have within easy reach a smokeless powder rifle meeting the centerfire rifle requirements listed above. 

3.Bow: Longbows, recurve bows, or compound bows are permitted, but they must have a peak draw weight of 50 pounds or more. Arrows must be at least 20 inches in overall length, and tipped with unbarbed, fixed or replaceable-blade type broadheads. Arrow and broadhead together must weigh at least 300 grains total weight. As with hunters using muzzleloaders, ADF&G strongly recommends that bowhunters have a rifle close at hand. 

* If you are planning on packing out moose meat, caribou meat, or a brown bear hide weighing hundreds of pounds, you can carry a 9- to 11-pound rifle including scope. A rifle of this weight in .300 or .338 magnum can be mastered with a lot of practice.

SUMMERY:  You can’t go wrong with a stainless steel bolt-action rifle chambered for a standard cartridge that you are comfortable with and can shoot accurately, loaded with a high quality bullet. 
The State of Alaska reserves its arguments and points that the polar bear should not have been listed under the Endangered Species Act. Nevertheless, should the polar bear remain listed as a “threatened” species under the ESA, then the State of Alaska agrees with the Fish and Wildlife Service findings that (CITES) are sufficient and adequate to conserve the polar bear .

The State of Alaska reserves its arguments against the recent amendment to designate a 200,000 square mile-area as critical polar bear habitat under the Endangered Species Act.  Threat to oil drilling prompted Alaska to sue to strip the polar bear of protected status altogether.  "status pending"

CITES I - An export permit or approval from the state or country of origin is required as well as an import permit or approval from your country of residence.  Also under the terms of the new listing is that hunters will no longer be able to import trophies from the hunting of polar bears in Canada.
The polar bear evolved about 200,000 years ago from brown bear ancestors. They are superbly adapted for survival in the Far North. Polar bears are the world's largest land predators. They top the food chain in the Arctic, where they prey primarily on ringed seals.

For thousands of years, the polar bear has been a key figure in the material, spiritual, and cultural life of Arctic indigenous peoples, and the hunting of polar bears remains important in their cultures. 

 Almost all parts of captured animals had a use. The fur was used in particular to sew trousers and, by the Nenets, to make galoshes-like outer footwear called tobok; the meat is edible, despite some risk of trichinosis; the fat was used in food and as a fuel for lighting homes, alongside seal and whale blubber; sinews were used as thread for sewing clothes; the gallbladder and sometimes heart were dried and powdered for medicinal purposes; the large canine teeth were highly valued as talismans. Only the liver was not used, as its high concentration of vitamin A is poisonous. Hunters make sure to either toss the liver into the sea or bury it in order to spare their dogs from potential poisoning.  Traditional subsistence hunting was on a small enough scale to not significantly affect polar bear populations, mostly because of the sparseness of the human population in polar bear habitat.

Polar bears are terrific swimmers, but they are used to swimming in calm waters. With increasing areas of open water, rough seas are making the going long, difficult—and sometimes deadly.

The polar bear is often regarded as a marine mammal because it spends many months of the year at sea. Its preferred habitat is the annual sea ice covering the waters over the continental shelf and the Arctic inter-island archipelagos. These areas, known as the "Arctic ring of life", have high biological productivity in comparison to the deep waters of the high Arctic.The polar bear tends to frequent areas where sea ice meets water, such as polynyas and leads (temporary stretches of open water in Arctic ice), to hunt the seals that make up most of its diet. Polar bears are therefore found primarily along the perimeter of the polar ice pack, rather than in the Polar Basin close to the North Pole where the density of seals is low.

Annual ice contains areas of water that appear and disappear throughout the year as the weather changes. Seals migrate in response to these changes, and polar bears must follow their prey. In Hudson Bay, James Bay, and some other areas, the ice melts completely each summer (an event often referred to as "ice-floe breakup"), forcing polar bears to go onto land and wait through the months until the next freeze-up. In the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, polar bears retreat each summer to the ice further north that remains frozen year-round.
*  CITES Appendix I - The polar bear is listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act by the United States Department of the Interior.

*Adult male polar bears weigh from 775 to more than 1,500 pounds. Females normally weigh 330 to 550 pounds.

* Females usually bear two cubs. Single cubs & triplets also occur depending on the health and condition of the mother. Cubs stay with their moms for up to 2-1/2 years.

* The liver of a polar bear is poisonous. Hunters make sure to either toss the liver into the sea or bury it in order to spare their dogs from potential poisoning.

* If you are a Nonresident or a Nonresident Alien, you must be accompanied by a licensed guide / outfitter OR by an Alaska resident (who is a close relative) to hunt in Alaska.

* Hunters must leave evidence of sex (penis sheath or vulva) attatched to a bear hide until the hide has been sealed. This is a legal requirement. This information is used in bear research and management.
Polar Bear - facts and figures
Hunting Tips - Shot placement
The objective of every conscientious hunter is to kill an animal as quickly as possible to avoid its suffering and to insure the highest quality meat. An animal that must be shot several times will have muscles flooded with lactic acid and adrenaline, resulting in poor tasting meat. Before a hunter takes a shot, it is his or her responsibility to be sure they can make a clean and accurate shot. 

Alaskan game animals will quickly die when both lungs and/or heart are hit by a bullet or arrow. If you intend to hunt moose, brown bear, or bison in Alaska, use the most powerful rifle you can accurately shoot. 

Heart & Double Lung Shot
The best shot placement is when the animal is broadside to the hunter or slightly facing away. A heart-lung shot from either position will likely puncture both lungs with the following advantages: 

1.When an animal is hit in the heart/lung area, a quick death is certain because an animal cannot function with a loss of both lungs and heart. If the bullet exits, the animal will probably leave a visible blood trail. 
2.The heart-lung area is likely to remain stationary. Because an animal’s head and neck frequently move it more difficult to accurately place a shot in those areas. 
3.A heart-lung shot minimizes a loss of meat if the bullet enters and exits through the ribs. 

Hunting Tips - When
Polar Bear hunting is generally done in very late winter or early spring, February 15th through April 30th, when the arctic days lengthen.

Hunting Tips - Where
Polar bears range throughout the Arctic in areas where they hunt seals at openings in sea ice called leads. Five nations have polar bear populations: the United States (Alaska), Canada, Russia, Denmark (Greenland), and Norway.

1. Huntig Polar Bear in Alaska - the best place to start is Kotzebue - The town and people known as the INUPIAQ, is located 33 miles North of the Arctic Circle on Alaska's Western coast. Kotzebue has accounted for seventy record-book bears.  Barrow - The Tikigaq, an Inuit people have been hunting polar bears for years.  Point Hope has registered twenty-six record bears.

Polar bears are harvested either by tribal members or as an native-guided sport hunt, in which case a non-native could harvest a bear. On 15 May 2008, the U.S. listed the polar bear as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act and banned all importing of polar bear trophies.  Therefore the Polor Bear is not hunted in the USA.

2. Hunting Polar bear in Canada, - Canada allocates a certain number of permits each year to sport and subsistence hunting, and those that are not used for sport hunting are re-allocated to Native subsistence hunting. Whereas Native communities kill all the polar bears they are permitted to take each year, only half of sport hunters with permits actually manage to kill a polar bear. If a sport hunter does not kill a polar bear before his or her permit expires, the permit cannot be transferred to another hunter.

Northwest Territories - one of the best areas to hunt in Canada, maintain their own quota within the Inuvialuit communities of which some are set aside for sports hunters.   Permits from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service were required to import sport-hunted polar bear trophies taken in hunting expeditions in Canada. The permit process required that the bear be taken from an area with quotas based on sound management principles.  However, The new protection for polar bears, under the terms of the listing, is that hunters will no longer be able to import Polar Bear trophies to the USA from Canada.

* Always check with  ADF&G  and your guide / outfitter BEFORE your hunt regarding importing your trophy into the USA.

Sealing Requirements
Bears from any location in Alaska also must be sealed within 30 days of the date of kill. Bring the hide and skinned out skull to ADF&G or a registered sealer to be examined and sealed. A small tooth (a premolar) will be pulled to obtain age information on your bear. At the time of sealing please make sure the skull is not frozen solid so the tooth can be pulled. If you are interested in learning how old your bear is, contact the ADF&G office in late winter and they can tell you. They will need your name, date of kill, and location of the kill. 

Many argue its the habitat NOT the polar bear that is endangered.  However if something isn't done to protect the enviorment of the polar bear- they will perish.  The Native tribes in Alaska and Canada need the revenue from the American hunters as well as other nations. We can only hope the powers that be - will allow the opportunity to again hunt in the USA, one of the worlds magnificent species.....The Polar Bear

Click Here 2011 News on Polar Bear Hunting in Alaska & Russia        
Click here Scientists cling to hope for polar bears in a warming world
Click here - For Guides / Outfitters and more
Click here - ADF&G  (Alaska Department of Fish & Game)
Hunting Tips - The Hunt
Polar bears have long provided important raw materials for Arctic peoples, including the Inuit, Yupik, Chukchi, Nenets, Russian Pomors and others. 

Hunting the arctic ice pack by dog team and sled you can experience temperatures to –40F with nothing between you and the elements but a canvas tent and the clothes on your back.

From the hunt area clients are usually transported to the actual hunting site by snowmobile, however the actual hunt is normaly done in the traditional manner with a native guide and dog team.
Camps are tents with stoves. Polar Bear camps are located on the sea ice and can be reached one or two days out by snowmobile. Polar Bear hunting is very rigorous. Only dedicated hunters in excellent physical condition should undertake this hunt. Hunters and guides camp on the ice pack and cover several miles every day via dog sled. Hunters will ride, glass, and spend up to 12 hours a day searching for bears. Weather conditions are unpredictable and often severe.

Having the right or wrong equipment can make or break a Polar Bear hunt in the artic CLICK  HERE  -  for an Artic Gear Checklist for this type of hunt.  This check list can also apply to hunting Muskox and Caribou in the artic.

If you have a trophy that you believe may qualify for B & C's Big Game Awards Program - contact one of their measurers to have it officially scored.  
Minimum Scores      Awards    All-time
       black bear                     20             21
       grizzly bear                   23             24
       Alaska brown bear         26             28
       Alaska Kodiak bear        26             28  
       polar bear                      27             27

Trophy Scoring Form

Alaska Polar Bear
(Ursus maritimus)
Backcountry Taxidermy
Hunter's Guide