U.S. Bans Importation of Polar Bear Trophies from Canada

Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Washington, D.C. - May 14, 2008
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced its decision to list the polar bear as a “threatened” species under the Endangered Species Act, effectively closing a loophole in the law that had previously allowed American trophy hunters to kill polar bears in Canada and bring back their heads and hides.
“Closing the trophy hunting loophole removes an unnecessary threat to the polar bear’s survival,” said Jeff Flocken, IFAW D.C. Office Director. “While we still have a long way to go, today’s decision is a step in the right direction.”
 
Polar bears have been protected since 1972 under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and cannot be trophy hunted in Alaska, the only U.S. state where they are found. However, in 1994, Congress bowed to special interests and created a loophole in the MMPA that allowed the importation of polar bear trophies from Canada by American hunters. Since then, nearly 1,000 permits have been issued.
 
“Melting sea ice, habitat degradation, and pollution have placed polar bears in a fragile state, and trophy hunting only exacerbates the problem,” added Flocken. “Today’s listing decision resolves the trophy hunting problem, at least from the American perspective, and we hope Congress and the Administration will continue to take positive steps to address the much broader impacts that global warming is having on polar bears and other wildlife species."

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