Rapid ecological and social change in the Arctic challenge conventional methods of policy analyses and prescriptions. This is especially true for the conservation of ice-dependent species as climate warming has reduced sea ice cover. Polar bears are an interesting case to examine, as they are subject to a bundle of institutions, many of which cross scales and have in the past resulted in successful collective action. However, key policies such as the US Endangered Species Act, premised on mediating short-term disturbances, may not fit new problems that cross geographic and temporal scales and require the conservation of slow ecosystem processes such as oceanographic conditions or sea ice habitats. In this case, it is argued that the American polar bear regime as it has evolved no longer fits contemporary social-ecological dynamics. Through an analysis of the scale, efficacy and feasibility of individual policies making up the regime, the current bundle of policies are evaluated against a model of social-ecological system dynamics. The results indicate that the regime has increased its geographic scale to match population dynamics, but has focused on short-term disturbance over long-term resilience and is characterized by trade-offs between efficacy and feasibility. The equity of these trade-offs for indigenous communities that live with bears as part of a social-ecological system is highlighted. To address resilience and issues of equity, a systems approach to policy design and evaluation is recommended.