New Bill Regarding Polar Bear Trophies

US Sportsmen's Alliance, Bear Hunting Magazine
09/19/2008

The US Sportsmens Alliance (USSA) applauds the action taken yesterday by Representative Don Young (R- AK) to introduce HR 6936. This new legislation will allow for the importation of already existing polar bear trophies currently prohibited due to the recent decision to list them as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

HR 6936 will eliminate the legal limbo surrounding existing trophies and permits that was created when the U.S. Department of Interior formally May 15, 2008 formal listed polar bears as threatened.

Unfortunately, the decision to list polar bears as threatened under the ESA was driven by politics rather than science, said Rob Sexton, USSA Vice President of Government Affairs. All of the polar bear populations where Americans are permitted to hunt are healthy, sustainable and well managed. The Marine Mammal Protection Act only allows trophy imports to occur from healthy bear populations. When the listing was ordered, provisions should have been included that allowed this years hunts to be completed. Representative Youngs bill is fair to hunters and good for polar bears. It is important to remember that the fees from these hunts actually pay for polar bear conservation efforts. 

Though, a positive step, HR 6936 does not solve the long-term problem. Under the current ESA designation, no new trophies can be imported, thereby eliminating polar bear hunting by Americans who provide the bulk of bear conservation funding. The Interior Department issued the threatened listing in response to a lawsuit by environmental activists who claim that shrinking arctic ice, allegedly caused by global warming will cause polar bear numbers to decline in 50 years. The threatened species listing provides no solution to arctic ice. The only result of the listing was to suspend polar bear hunting.

It is ironic that the only Americans impacted by the decision to list polar bears as threatened were those who pay actually pay to ensure their survival, said Sexton.

USSA has been working with Rep. Young and other conservation minded legislators to find a solution that will allow hunting and conservation efforts to resume.



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