|(Columbus) – A bill to outlaw polar bear hunting yesterday was introduced before Congress. Sportsmen are campaigning against the measure that will wipe out the programs that provide the principal revenue for polar bear conservation.
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On May 15, Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Washington, and Frank LoBiondo, R-New Jersey, introduced HR 2327 to repeal an exemption within the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which allows sportsmen to hunt polar bears in Canada and return trophies to the United States. The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, the nation’s premier sportsmen’s advocacy group, helped establish the exemption in 1994. Polar bear numbers are at an all-time high, and the overall population is considered healthy by wildlife professionals.
“From a conservation standpoint, there is no reason to stop polar bear hunting – it’s all politics," said Rick Story, U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance senior vice president. "All we are seeing is an early salvo in the war to outlaw the taking of all wildlife. If the federal government can amend the law to stop polar bear hunting for no good reason, then it and state governments can do the same thing with deer, turkeys, elk, you name it. All it takes is enough pressure, and we say it’s time to fight back.”
The bill will bring Canada’s successful polar bear conservation programs to a screeching halt, as essential funding from hunting programs will immediately fall off.
American sportsmen account for approximately 80 hunts per year, which means more than $2.4 million annually into polar bear research, conservation and native communities in Canada. Canadian polar bear populations are stable and increasing, but if U.S. citizens are shut out of these hunts, a primary funding source for polar bear management will be eliminated and the now-healthy bear populations will be at risk.
Anti-hunters support HR 2327 despite the fact that it will eliminate crucial conservation funding.
“The anti-hunters are willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater,” adds Story. “They are not interested in what is best for wildlife, which would be the continuation of the hunting programs. Their goal is a hands-off approach to wildlife management, and they want hunting banned no matter what the cost.”
In December, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) proposed to list polar bears, including Canada’s stable and increasing populations, as federally threatened. The service offered the proposal to appease environmental groups over potential global climate change and shrinking Arctic sea ice, but ignored the science that shows polar bear populations are at historic highs and that there are no imminent threats to the healthy, huntable populations. The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance opposes the listing.
The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance urges hunters and supporters of sound conservation practices to oppose HR 2327. Contact U.S. representatives today and ask them to protect sound scientific wildlife conservation and polar bear management, oppose HR 2327. Call (202) 224-3121 or use the Legislative Action Center at www.ussportsmen.org.
The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance is a national association of sportsmen and sportsmen’s organization that protects the rights of hunters, anglers and trappers in the courts, legislatures, at the ballot, in Congress and through public education programs. For more information about the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance and its work, call (614) 888-4868 or visit its website, www.ussportsmen.org.