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U.S. Steps Up to Help Polar Bears

U.S. Steps Up to Help Polar Bears

The Obama administration has announced that it will support a ban on the commercial trade of polar bears at the next meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in March, which would ban the sale polar bear parts outside of Canada and help end trophy hunting.

There are still an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears, with two-thirds of the population in Canada, but they’re facing a number of threats ranging from the loss of sea ice which they rely on for survival, disease, pollution, shipping and hunting, among other potential issues.

“Everybody knows that polar bears are threatened by climate change, but few people realize that the second-biggest threat to the species is commercial trade,” said Andrew Wetzler of the Natural Resources Defence Council.

“As polar bears decline during the melting of the sea ice, one of the best things we can do is to remove one of the other most important stresses on them, and it is the easiest one to remove,” he said.

The move would uplist polar bears from Appendix II to Apendix I as a species threatened by extinction and is supported by a number of conservation groups. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a position statement in support of uplisting polar bears and stated that it is “necessary to ensure that primarily commercial trade does not compound the threats posed to the species by loss of habitat.”

The legal trade in parts including paws, teeth and pelts results in the death of hundreds of polar bears annually. Canada, the only country that allows polar bear hunting and commercial trade, argues that populations are healthy and necessary for subsistence hunting, but troubling numbers gathered by the USFWS indicate that while some populations are stable or increasing, more than a dozen are either declining or haven’t been checked in decades.

Meanwhile, arctic sea ice has declined to record lows, while some estimate that polar bears will not survive a complete loss of summer sea ice that is expected to occur over the next 30 years.

The U.S. previously sponsored a proposal in 2010, but didn’t get enough support to make it happen. This year, Russia has agreed to support moving polar bears to Appendix I. As of May, Canada, Denmark and Norway didn’t see any reason to do anything, but haven’t announced their positions yet.

 

Related Stories:

Support a Ban on the Commercial Trade of Polar Bear Parts

Time to Stop Canada’s Annual Polar Bear Hunt

Polar Bear Hunting Banned in Russia

 

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Photo credit: Thinkstock

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4:57PM PST on Dec 17, 2012

Way to go USA !!!! Let's keep the pressure on Canada, Denmark and Norway. Petition signed.

10:58PM PST on Dec 16, 2012

Sent the one to mr cameron.

8:05PM PST on Dec 16, 2012

thanks

12:17PM PST on Dec 16, 2012

Good news, thank you.

12:17PM PST on Dec 16, 2012

Good news, thank you.

6:45PM PST on Nov 4, 2012

Canada's harper is one of the most vicious anti life leaders in the world. He'd slaughter all wildlife in Canada and gladly murder his own children for a dollar. Trans Canada is a terrorist organization, peddling the dirtiest oil on earth, and Harper supports any criminal means, including bribes, extortion, threats and sabotage of climate talks to forward Trans Canada's earth destroying agenda. Canada's government is a blight on the world.

3:54PM PDT on Oct 18, 2012

Now if we would just stop ALL the drilling the bears might - just might - have a chance.

5:33AM PDT on Oct 17, 2012

good news :) thanks for sharing

5:58AM PDT on Oct 15, 2012

Signed! Thanks for sharing!

3:15PM PDT on Oct 14, 2012

Thank you for this great piece of news! Gladly signed.

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