Kerry, Snowe Introduce Bill to Protect Threatened Polar Bears
Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) today introduced the "Polar Bear Protection Act," which would prohibit trophy hunters from bringing polar bear carcasses into the US from Canada. The Senators wrote the bill, in light of polar bear population dwindling and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service proposal to list the polar bear as a threatened species. Polar bears are in increasing danger, due to the large-scale melting of the sea ice that makes up the polar bear habitat. This dramatic melting is caused by climate change.
"The polar bear has become a tragic symbol of our threatened environment, and of the wildlife that pays the price for dangerous practices," Sen. Kerry said. "It's time to put the polar bear on the Endangered Species List, and give them a fighting chance at survival. But it also means that we must close the loophole that allows for trophy hunting by U.S. sport hunters in Canada. Not only must these bears contend with their home melting away, but they are also being hunted in the limited habitat they have left. It's time to take responsibility for their survival. We need to pick up the pieces and change our practices, before it's too late."
"With the polar bear population dwindling, it is essential that the United States not provide any incentives for killing this magnificent animal," said Sen. Snowe. "The polar bear should be fully protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and it is incumbent upon the Congress to end this loophole. The world needs to recognize the consequences of human behavior on this species and ending the importation of deceased polar bears is a vital first step."
The Humane Society of the United States, Defenders of Wildlife and the International Fund for Animal Welfare have all endorsed the measure.
The bill would restore the 1972 moratorium on the importation of marine mammal trophies, which mostly enter the United States from Canadian hunts. The ban would repeal a 1994 exception that let the Interior Department issue permits, which allowed hunters to bring polar bear carcasses across the border from hunts in Canada.