A young polar bear cub.

Denning is the most vulnerable time in the polar bear's lifecycle. For at-risk populations like the Southern Beaufort Sea polar bears, shielding dens from harm is critically important.

© Steven Amstrup/Polar Bears International

8/13/2020 2:30:06 PM

Rep. Huffman’s Polar Bear Cub Survival Act

Rep. Jared Huffman (D-California) has introduced the Polar Bear Cub Survival Act to ensure that polar bears denning in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge are not harmed by oil and gas development during this sensitive period in their lifecycle. The bill would require a one-mile buffer zone to shield maternal denning habitat.

Polar Bears International has issued this statement in support of the Act:

“We fully support Representative Huffman’s bill, which will provide essential protections to polar bear families that den in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, safeguarding them from harm.

“Polar bears give birth in winter in dens that are hidden under the snow. They remain in the dens until spring when their cubs are finally large enough to survive the rigors of outside Arctic conditions. While denning, polar bears are unable to simply move away from a disturbance without substantial risk to newborn cubs. Families that remain in the den run the risk of being crushed by heavy equipment, while departing the den early can lead to the death of cubs.

“From decades of research by Polar Bears International's scientists and colleagues, we know that denning is the most vulnerable time in the polar bear’s lifecycle. We also know that for the at-risk Southern Beaufort Sea population—a population that has declined by nearly 50 percent since the 1980s—every den matters.

“This bill will ensure a one-mile buffer from known dens is maintained and help protect polar bear denning habitat, giving moms and cubs needed safeguards during this critical period in their lives.”

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