Riley (2002) states that the key site for the conservation of this species is the Sahendaruman forest block on Sangihe. This forest is 4,268 ha in size, and represents the only remaining sizeable area of primary forest left in the two islands. It was designated as Protection Forest Hutan Lindung (Riley 2002), but it is not strictly protected and is subject to a number of threats (Riley and Wardill 2001). The species is protected under Indonesian law, but there is little enforcement. Increased community awareness and enforcement are seen as essential to the conservation of this species, which will require a reduction in hunting pressure and habitat protection (Riley 2002). Further taxonomic research should be conducted to confirm the identity of the bear cuscus on Sangihe, and field surveys are needed to confirm its continued existence on Salibabu.
This species is endemic to Indonesia, where it has been reported from Sangihe (the largest island in the Sangihe Island group) and Salibabu (within the Talaud Islands). However, although a bear cuscus has been seen and photographed on Sangihe, no specimen from here is known to exist. It has been assumed that this bear cuscus is Ailurops melanotis, but this requires confirmation as the Sangihe Island group is separate from the Talaud Islands and lies closer to Sulawesi, where the more widespread A. ursinus exists.
This species is rare. In the late 1990s survey work on Sangihe and Salibabu Islands failed to locate the species (Riley 2002). This survey work was intense on Sangihe (120 days), but brief on Salibabu (Riley 2002). A captive individual was found on Sangihe and there was local knowledge of the species on both islands (Riley 2002).
This species is heavily hunted (Riley 2002). Its populations are now small and fragmented within its small range (Riley 2002). Although it has been reported from secondary forest and gardens, these individuals are probably dependent on nearby primary forest, which continues to be reduced and degraded by logging, expanding agriculture, and human settlement.