Monday, October 19, 2009

U.S. Department of the Interior Submits Proposal to Ban the International Trade in Polar Bear Parts and Products

Though we cannot say that the Obama Administration is a huge fan of animals, what a change from just a year ago. We can only hope such a ban will occur and that the administration will act on other issues as well.


U.S. Interior Department proposes international ban on the trade in polar bears

By Abby Haight, The Oregonian

October 16, 2009, 3:00PM

Animal rights groups today praised the U.S. Department of the Interior for submitting a proposal to ban the international trade in polar bears.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife
The United States wants to ban international commercial trade in polar bears.
If approved by the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora at its meeting next March in Qatar, the proposal would make commercial trade in polar bears illegal. Currently, international commercial trade is regulated.

The ban would not apply to native subsistence hunting of polar bears.

"International trade in polar bear parts and products is exacerbating the devastating impact that climate change is already having on the polar bear," said Teresa M. Telecky, director of wildlife for Humane Society International.

An estimated 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears live in arctic regions, where they are dependent on sea ice for hunting, reproduction and movement. Some scientists predict the bears won't survive past the end of the century because of the complete loss of summer sea ice from climate change.

Polar bears are hunted for trophies, as well as skin, fur, claws, skulls and even stuffed bears that are commercially traded. More than 500 polar bear skins are traded annually -- mostly from Canada to Japan.

Polar bears were added as a threatened species to the Endangered Species Act in 2008, ending the importation of polar bear trophies killed by U.S. sport hunters.

"While we cannot stop the impacts of global warming on polar bears immediately, one thing we can do is quickly address other threats which are heightening the bear's problems, such as the commercial trade. By increasing protections for polar bears under CITES, we can start to give the polar bear some more protections while we take the necessary steps to address global warming," said Rodger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife.

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