Bills Introduced To Allow Import Of Polar Bears

Hides Unable To Be Brought In Under Current Laws

US Sportsmen's Alliance, Bear Hunting Magazine

Alaska Congressman Introduces Two Bills to Allow the Import of Trophies and Guarantee Conservation Funding

On February 12, 2009 Representative Don Young (R- AK) introduced two bills drafted to permit the import of sport hunting polar bear trophies.

The bills, HR 1054 and HR 1055, address a serious problem that emerged in the wake of the recent U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) decision to list polar bears as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

HR 1054 is a short-term fix that eliminates legal confusion surrounding existing trophies and permits created when the U.S. Department of Interior on May 15, 2008 formally listed polar bears as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). HR 1055 provides a comprehensive solution by amending the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which prevents polar bears from being imported, no matter their ESA status. Youngs amendment allows for new trophies to be imported to the United States.

Under the Polar Bears new designation as a threatened species under the ESA, the other law that prevents their import, no trophies can be brought into the U.S. In addition to denying hunters the ability to hunt one of the worlds great species, the import prohibition eliminates a significant source of conservation funding for polar bears as the bulk of those dollars are generated by Americans hunters as they pay various trophy fees.

The Interior Department issued the threatened listing in response to a lawsuit by environmental activists who allege that shrinking arctic ice caused by global warming may cause polar bear numbers to decline in 50 years.

"The threatened species listing provides no solution to arctic ice," said Rob Sexton, USSA Vice President of Government Affairs. "The only result of the listing is to suspend polar bear hunting. The threatened listing is pure political theater."

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