U.S. appeals court upholds ban on polar bear imports
Today, the D.C. Court of Appeals supported the ban on the importation of polar bear trophies, rejecting separate appeals by U.S. pro-hunting groups, Safari Club International and Conservation Force.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare and its partners, Defenders of Wildlife and The Humane Society, have been a party to this lawsuit since it was filed in 2008, so this is an exciting victory for us and for polar bears!
The plaintiff in both cases was the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, which listed polar bears as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act in 2008, immediately stopping the import of polar bear trophies as called for by the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
In each of their appeals, attorneys for Safari Club International and Conservation Force contended F&WS failed to follow notice-and-comment rulemaking procedures, which would have given them sufficient time to challenge the threatened species designation.
In Conservation Force’s case, its attorney also contended that permitting the importation of polar bear parts from Canada would be helpful for conservation because hunters must pay to shoot bears, thus providing funds that could be used to help the environment and indigenous residents. They further argued that the ban was arbitrary and capricious.
In their rulings, it is clear judges saw right through the flimsy arguments put forth by these pro-hunting groups. There is no clear evidence that income from trophy hunting significantly or inherently helps with the conservation of a species, and in particular polar bears.
IFAW’s own study on the economics of polar bear trophy hunting revealed that the economic benefits of polar bear trophy hunting is too limited and too heavily concentrated in too few hands to be a solution to the broader social-economic troubles faced by people in the region.
We applaud this decision to uphold the ban on polar bear trophies import into the U.S. With polar bears in danger on so many fronts, from climate change and habitat loss, there is no excuse for killing any of these animals for sport and trophies.