You spoke, and finally, the U.S. government listened. Over 6,000 Care2 members joined with activists throughout the country to send public comments to the Department of the Interior supporting a proposal to end the international polar bear trade. The comment deadline was September 11th, and late last week, DOI announced it agreed with all of you.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has submitted this proposal to be considered during the upcoming meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The U.S. proposes to “uplist” the polar bear from CITES Appendix II to Appendix I, which prohibits all international trade in the listed species, “due to current and anticipated future habitat loss due to climate change.”
In non-wonky terms, the U.S. is putting a proposal on the international table to stop polar bear trophy hunting and trade in polar bear body parts. Since we can’t yet seem to get our elected representatives to join the world in trying to end global warming and stop polar bears’ homes from melting, at least we can try to get the global community to agree to stop people from killing polar bears to make rugs, aphrodisiacs and wall trophies.
“By strengthening protections for polar bears under CITES, we can give the polar bear some relief while we take the necessary steps to combat global warming,” said Defenders of Wildlife President Rodger Schlickeisen.
Every year as many as 100 polar bears are killed in Canada by sport hunters, according to Andrew Wetzler of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Wetzler has documented the number of polar bears affected by the international polar bear trade and why we need to stop it.
Canadian Care2 members, your voices will be key in the coming months. As Wetzler explains, Canada is the only country that allows both trophy hunting and commercial trade in polar bears, and Canada is home to two-thirds of the polar bears on the planet. And the Canadian polar bear populations are some of the most stable, making strengthening the protection of these bears all the more important to the species’ survival.
So stay tuned for more news as we get closer to the March CITES Convention, and in the meantime, thank you again for speaking out for polar bears!