Update on Import of Already Hunted Polar Bears in Canada
SCI Testifies at Congressional Hearing Regarding the Import of Already Harvested Polar Bears
SCI Represents Hunters and Science-Based Wildlife Management
Washington, D.C. – Today, Dr. William Moritz from Safari Club International (SCI) testified in support of polar bear conservation and research before the House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources’ Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife.
At issue is H.R. 1054, Congressman Don Young’s (R-AK) legislation to allow the importation of approximately 42 polar bears that already have been legally hunted in Canada. Before the May 15, 2008 listing of the polar bear as threatened, U.S. citizens could obtain import permits for polar bears hunted from six approved populations -- those which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has found to have a sound and sustainable harvest program. Relying on both science and sound wildlife management principles, SCI explained that allowing these imports would not affect the polar bear populations, but would generate over $40,000 for polar bear research.
Congressman Young’s bill would amend the Marine Mammal Protection Act to specifically allow the import of polar bears that had been hunted from approved populations prior to the listing of the species under the Endangered Species Act. The decision by the FWS banning imports deprived numerous individuals of the full value of their rightful property. The bears currently sit in cold storage in Canada. H.R. 1054 would help rectify this unfortunate situation for the 40-plus hunters affected by the import ban.
“The harvest of these animals provided important income to local native communities, which encouraged the communities to value the polar bear even more and to better accept science-based quotas on the appropriate levels of sustainable take,” said SCIF Director of Conservation Dr. Bill Moritz during today’s hearing. What also gets lost in the rhetoric about climate change and polar bears are the facts that polar bears number between 20,000 and 25,000 worldwide and the import of sport-hunted trophies does not increase mortality, as tags not used by sport hunters are used for subsistence purposes by the local native communities.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) also testified today. FWS has indicated their possible support for HR 1054 if it only allowed importation of those polar bears for which an import application had been submitted prior to the May 15, 2008 ban.
SCI President Larry Rudolph said, “Under U.S. law, import permits provide important conservation program funding of $1,000 per permit. In the last 13 years, U.S. hunters have contributed almost $1 million dollars to polar bear research through these fees. The permits sought for bears taken before the import ban went in effect would add another $42,000 to current conservation efforts. If anti-hunting organizations like the Humane Society and others are against conservation funding, then you’d have to question their true interest to begin with.”
SCI-First For Hunters is the leader in protecting the freedom to hunt and in promoting wildlife conservation worldwide. SCI’s approximately 190 Chapters represent all 50 of the United States as well as 18 other countries. SCI’s proactive leadership in a host of cooperative wildlife conservation, outdoor education and humanitarian programs, with the SCI Foundation and other conservation groups, research institutions and government agencies, empowers sportsmen to be contributing community members and participants in sound wildlife management and conservation. Visit the home page Safari Club International for more information.