A Make or Break Moment for Polar Bears
by Frances Beinecke
President, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council)
Polar bears need our help more than ever.
Trophy hunters kill hundreds of them every year — and sell their skins, teeth, claws and skulls to the highest bidder on the international market. Believe it or not, it’s all perfectly legal.
The world doesn’t have any polar bears to spare — and certainly not to end up as rugs in front of someone’s fireplace. But right now, we’ve come to a make or break moment for polar bears. The Obama Administration is deciding whether or not to propose a worldwide ban on the commercial trade in polar bear parts at the next meeting of the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
This is no time for our government to be on the fence about polar bear protection. As if the gruesome trade in polar bear parts isn’t bad enough, the bear’s very existence is also gravely threatened by climate change, toxic pollution and oil development. They are already drowning and starving as a result of melting sea ice. Scientists predict that rising temperatures alone will cause two-thirds of the world’s polar bears to go extinct by 2050.
Combined, these threats amount to a perilous existence and an uncertain future for polar bears. We should be doing everything we can to save this already vulnerable population — not killing these magnificent creatures simply for sport.
In 2010, at the last meeting of CITES, the United States led the way and sponsored a ban — but the effort fell short of the votes needed. Since then, the polar bear’s plight has only grown more dire.
We must urge the Obama Administration to lead the way again and pursue a ban — and you can help make that happen. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is accepting public comments on this issue until June 11 — less than a week from today. Take action and urge the Fish and Wildlife Service to propose a worldwide ban on the gruesome trade in polar bear parts. Join over 100,000 activists across the country who have already signed the petition and make your voice heard today!