Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch reintroduced the Polar Bear Conservation and Fairness Act of 2013. Harvesting of polar bears was banned on May 14, 2008 when the species was listed as threatened; however, this ban prevented hunters who had legally killed a polar bear in Canada prior to this date from importing their trophy hide. This measure would allow those hunters impacted to import the trophies that belong to them.
"Sportsmen in Idaho, and throughout the country, should not be restricted from the animals they have legally harvested," noted Crapo. "These hides in Canada are restricted from coming across the border due to bureaucratic restrictions put in place after the legal hunt took place. Congress should make it possible for these hunters to claim their prize which would have no impact on the threatened polar bear species."
"These animals were legally harvested and should not be prohibited from entering the country due to bureaucratic red tape. Bringing these trophies across the border will do nothing to harm the species," said Risch.
In 2008, hunters from the U.S. went on legal polar bear hunts in Canada. However, between the time the polar bears were shot in Canada and the hunters tried to bring their trophy hides back to the U.S., polar bears were placed on the threatened species list in the U.S. At this point, the Lacey Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act restrictions were triggered, thereby preventing the bear hides from being imported.
This bill is limited to bears that are already dead. In order to lay claim to one of the trophies, you must have previously applied and harvested a bear prior to polar bears being listed as threatened. There is no opening for retroactively submitting paperwork. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol have already identified the owners of the bears, eliminating the opportunity for fraud.
Similar legislation is being introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman Don Young (R-Alaska).