U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe announced today the recipients of the Service’s 2011 Recovery Champion awards. These awards recognize Service employees and their partners for contributions to the recovery of threatened and endangered species. Two U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Alaska Region employees, and an arctic Borough that has been a valuable partner to the Service in Alaska, were among those honored.

Jennifer Reed of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and Susi Miller of our Marine Mammals Management program, were recognized for efforts that further the conservation of polar bears; and the North Slope Borough received an award for its work with Alaska Region personnel for the benefit of species ranging from Steller’s eiders to polar bears.

For more than 10 years, Jennifer Reed and Susi Miller have played critical roles in supporting the efforts of Alaska’s northern coast communities to address potential polar bear-human conflicts, rather than attempting to implement a government-designed approach.  Through non-lethal hazing techniques, the program has reduced the numbers of polar bears that enter area villages, thereby reducing the number of the animals that are at risk of being killed for human safety reasons. In addition, improved community relationships have allowed Ms. Reed and Ms. Miller to expand their conservation work by assisting local communities in the development of commercial polar bear viewing guidelines and by soliciting local involvement in oil spill response planning efforts relating to the species.

The North Slope Borough has also tackled the problem of polar bears entering coastal villages by implementing a human-polar bear conflict avoidance program which has reduced the number of the animals killed in the interest of public safety.  In addition, the Borough contributes to threatened Steller’s and spectacled eider recovery by collaborating with the Service, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Bureau of Land Management, and North Slope residents to implement outreach programs designed to eliminate the take of listed eiders and stop the use of lead shot.

Geoffrey L. Haskett, the Service’s Alaska Regional Director, praised these accomplishments, saying, “Partnerships are at the core of virtually everything our agency does, and indeed it is only by working with others that we can be most effective in our efforts to recover listed species. The natural resources in our charge are fortunate to have individuals and organizations like Jennifer, Susi and the North Slope Borough pulling together to preserve our at-risk species.”

Information on all of this year’s Recovery Champions can be found at:

http://www.fws.gov/endangered/what-we-do/recovery-champions/index.html

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