Coalition partners prepared to fight for polar bear survival
UPDATE 10.15.13: Great news-- On October 8, the United States Supreme Court denied SCI’s petition to overturn the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s decision listing of the polar bear as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The U.S. ban on polar bear trophy imports remains!
UPDATE: Great news-- On June 18, the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision barring the importation of polar bear trophies into the U.S.!
ORIGINAL POST: Sitting in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit last Thursday, I was reminded of the old adage: if at first you don’t succeed…try, try again.
This latest attempt may not hold up for Conservation Force (CF) and Safari Club International (SCI), who made yet another appearance in federal court last week to continue arguing their perceived right to import polar bear trophies from Canada, even after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's 2008 decision to list the species as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
This litigation has a very long history. Here is a snapshot summary of the latest:
In March, the sport-hunting groups lost an appeal against the 2008 Federal Court ruling in favor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FSW) listing of the polar bear as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The ruling maintains the current ban on the import of sport-hunted polar bear trophies from Canada as a result of the species' depleted status.
Last week, in two separate cases, oral arguments from lawyers representing CF and SCI appealed the denial of permits to import polar bear trophies. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) worked with a number of groups to intervene in the cases and defend the government’s decision to close down the trade in polar bear hunting trophies.
In their appeals, CF and SCI argued, respectively, that sport-hunting directly contributes to the enhancement of polar bear conservation and that importation of a threatened species is still permitted under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. It’s not always easy to determine where judges stand, but it seemed abundantly clear that the opposition had very little to offer the court in backing up these arguments.
IFAW and our coalition partners are prepared to stand our ground in the fight for the survival of this iconic species. More than ever, any protections we can provide the polar bear both in the U.S. and on the global front will help ensure a brighter future.
We anticipate a positive outcome on these cases in the next couple of months and are encouraged by the Greenwire article summarizing these latest court proceedings.