A Dark Future for Polar Bears

18 Feb 2013

The hunting of polar bears is now in full force. The Canadian tourist agencies responsible for organizing hunting trips in Nunavut, the North West Territories, and in Manitoba are completely booked until 2014. In order to respond to such high demand, Nunavut increased the hunting quotas in the Hudson Bay area, without taking into account the disapproval of the Polar Bear Specialist Group from the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature). Instead of the elephant, the polar bear is now the « ultimate target ». The polar bear finds itself in the challenge of the century, at the summit of the world. « For our European Clients, we recommend at least the caliber 8 x 57mm, but the best is 9.3 x 74mm ». Having reached the top, you can return with the most prestigious of trophies, with some help from the best taxidermists in Canada.


For those preferring not to travel, auctions permit the sale of rare animal hides, especially of those who have inhabited such northern regions for millions of years and now destined for extinction should no action be taken to protect them. The number of hides arriving at auction houses, and their prices, continue to increase.

At the same time, recent increases in scientific publications predict a dark future for polar bears. The latest article, from February 2013 in Conservation Letters, signed by a Canadian specialist working with 11 other international scientists, pushed for immediate action by the international community in order to save the species. The melting of the ice caps forces polar bears into an irreversible cycle of food shortage. The increasing difficulty of access to vital resources diminishes their strength and ability to reproduce.

Only 11 countries in the European Union, excluding France, support the U.S. proposal to include the polar bear into Appendix I of CITES, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. The vote for the proposal will occur during the plenary session that is to take place in March of 2013 in Bangkok, Thailand. Consequently, the E.U. is circulating a counter proposition, under the guise of a compromise, suggesting studies over the next three years, in order to better understand the polar bear population, examine all risks, current and future facing the species, and the impact of international trade. At the end of said process, the E.U. would be able to support a proposal to add polar bears to Appendix I of CITES in 2016. Three more years wasting in trying to save the polar bear; the U.S. proposal to include the polar bear in Appendix I failed once already, in Qatar in 2010, due to the opposition of the 27 countries of the European Union (48 votes for, 62 against, and 11 abstentions -2/3 of the vote is needed for the adoption of the proposal).

Appendix I of CITES forbids international trade. The transportation of hunting trophies will also be forbidden, unless: Scientific authorities of the importing and exporting countries have approved and later verified the proper permits, declaring that « the exportation of the hunting trophy is not detrimental to the survival of the species » and has been acquired in accordance with CITES.

The inclusion in Appendix I will not affect the indigenous hunting of polar bears: CITES does not treat local hunting or consumption. « Polar Bear Watching » generates more income than hunting them. Inuit artists produce remarkable creations depicting polar bears, without using parts of the bears. Thanks to their recent autonomy from Greenland and Nunavut, the Inuit have adopted a new outlook toward their development, one that does not involve the international trade of polar bears, or their parts. From now on, they are involved in the management of the fishing, geological, and touristic resources of their territories and surrounding oceans.

The Coalition for the Polar Bears (Coalition pour les Ours Polaires) hopes that France can without delay join the U.S., Russia, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, Lithuania, Romania, Austria, as well as the other countries in favor of the ban of the intentional trade of polar bears. This measure will not stop the melting of Arctic ice, but it will undoubtedly help to protect the species.

Members of the French Coalition for Polar Bears : IFAW France, Robin des Bois, Fondation Brigitte Bardot, One Voice, Sea Sheperd France, 30 Millions d’Amis, la Ligue de Protection des Oiseaux (LPO), l’ASPAS, AVES France, L214, le CRAC, Ecologie sans Frontière, les Amis de la Terre.







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