US Pushing International Polar Bear Regs

U.S. Sportsmen, Bear Hunting Magazine

The U.S. Department of the Interior is seeking support from other countries on a ban that would block the commercial trade of polar bears and impose more restrictions on hunting the threatened species over global warming concerns. The department is pushing the regulations as part of an international trade agreement already in place with the encouragement of anti-hunting groups. The International Fund for Animal Welfare, Humane Society International, and Defenders of Wildlife issued a press release in September urging the U.S. to support banning all polar bear hunting and banning all trade in polar bear trophies, hides, and rugs at the next meeting of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) scheduled for March 13-15, 2010 in Doha, Qatar.

Under the proposal, polar bears would be removed from the CITES Appendix II and added to Appendix I, which allows the prohibition of all international trade of a particular species. Polar bears have been listed under Appendix II since 1975, when the convention became effective worldwide.

In October 2007, the U.S. Sportsmens Alliance issued a statement to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stating that adding polar bears to the Endangered Species List will not stop global warming, the cited factor for the polar bears then proposed threatened status, according to a U.S. Geological Survey report released a month earlier that year.

Listing the bears as endangered will not empower the Fish and Wildlife Service to control any global factors that may contribute to climate change and the alleged loss of Artic Sea ice, William Horn, USSA director of federal affairs, said in the Oct. 30, 2007 press release. But it will wipe out a significant amount of conservation funding that the hunts generate.

The U.S. Department of Interior formally listed polar bears as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in May of 2008 using the same inadequate evidence that global warming will reduce the animals arctic ice habitats and lead to the bears extinction.

The listing successfully banned importing polar bear trophies from regulated hunting programs. Hunters that shot a polar bear outside of the U.S. right before and after the official listing were not allowed to bring their trophy back with them causing a stir among sportsmen.

According to the U.S. Sportsmens Alliance, both of the bans supportive statements are based on long-term projections of what may happen over the course of decades, not verifiable scientific evidence. The USSA stated that the Endangered Species Act threatened listing and CITES agreements are only political gestures that will do nothing to deal with any ice shrinkage.

If new regulations banning polar bear hunting are enforced, it will open the doors for more anti-hunting groups to advocate and successfully impose legislative bans on the hunting of other species with flimsy, non-scientific evidence.

Current and expanded prohibitions regarding polar bear hunting do nothing to address fears over shrinking arctic ice and only will establish the dangerous precedent of pushing aside science to attain unassociated goals, Bud Pidgeon, USSA president and CEO, said in a press release issued by USSA. Those who oppose hunting are foolishly attempting to slam the door on responsible hunters who contribute the dollars so vital to continued conservation efforts today and tomorrow.

Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Tom Strickland announced the proposal submission on Oct. 16 on behalf of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Strickland will also lead the delegation as the U.S. representative at the fifteenth Conference of the Parties.

The CITES conference brings together 175 nations where the trade of wild animals and plants are discussed to ensure international trade does not endanger these resources. Representatives from each nation consider wildlife conservation proposals submitted by CITES parties, discuss the proposals and sign resolutions that amend international trade agreements based on the submitted proposals suggestions for improvement, protection and enforcement of various species during the three-day convention.

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