US finally abandons unscientific bid to ban international polar bear trade

“The fight is over, for the time being. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has decided not to pursue an international ban on trade in polar bear products that the CITES COP17 gathering in South Africa this September.”

CITES 2017 US drops bid to ban polar bear trade_2 May 2016

From a news report at NunatsiaqOnline this morning (2 May 2016) – the only news outlet so far that has carried the news (U.S. drops bid to ban international trade in polar bear products).

You may or may not agree with the practice of sport hunting for polar bears but this move is huge.  For years, the US has been trying to bully the international community  into accepting their warped perception of Arctic species conservation (where what computer models say  might happen by 2050 trumps what is true today). Polar bear numbers have not declined due to global warming or over-hunting, and face no immediate threat of extinction.

Here is the only “announcement” made by US Fish & Wildlife, which came buried at the end of a lengthy blog post (dated 27 April 2016), which seems to indicate they have not really changed their minds but may not want to lose face by loosing again:

Regarding polar bears, though we remain concerned about the commercial use of polar bear hides as an additional threat to the species, we are not pursuing increased CITES protections at this time. We are putting our resources into working in collaboration with other polar bear range states to address climate change and mitigate its impacts on the polar bear as the overwhelming threat to the long-term future of the species.” [my bold]

From the NunatsiaqOnline report, which explains why the US push to move polar bears into the CITES Appendix I category is scientifically wrong:

“The U.S. government made no formal announcement of the decision.

But polar bears do not appear on a list released April 28 that sets out the endangered species for which the U.S. will seek more protection when CITES meets later this year.

The decision is reported only in half a paragraph at the bottom of a lengthy blog post.

Formally known as the 17th CITES Conference of the Parties, the September 2016 gathering in Johannesburg will bring together representatives from more than 170 countries, along with numerous non-governmental organizations.

At CITES conferences in 2013 and 2018, the U.S. government tried and failed to get polar bears up-listed from the organization’s Appendix II list to Appendix I.

Appendix II lists species that are not necessarily threatened with extinction right now, but which could be threatened unless trade is controlled and monitored closely.

But the CITES Appendix I list is for the world’s most immediately endangered species, like tigers, gorillas, jaguars, rhinos and panda bears, which are threatened with extinction.

An up-listing to Appendix I would ban all international trade in polar bear products and do serious damage to Canadian Inuit polar bear sports hunts.

The last U.S. attempt to up-list polar bears, in 2013, failed when 42 countries vote against the idea and only 38 voted in favour, with 46 abstentions.

But many observers feared the U.S. would try again in 2016.” [my bold]

Read the rest here.

Related posts:

Why is the US pushing to ban polar bear trade? Polar bears have been saved
February 4, 2013

US proposal to ban polar bear trade FAILS March 7, 2013

Polar bears will not be considered for severe CITES trade restrictions
September 6, 2015

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