USSA Fights Back To Save Polar Bear HuntUnited States Sportsmens Alliance, Bear Hunting Magazine
The U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance is taking action after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) proposed to list polar bears, including populations in Canada that are stable and increasing, as a federally threatened species. If approved, the listing will stop American sportsmen from hunting polar bears in Canada.
On Dec. 27, 2006, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) proposed that the polar bear be listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. Instead of limiting threatened status to only the distinct population segments that are decreasing, FWS's recommendation will put all of the bears, including healthy, hunting populations, under the same restrictions.
"There are 19 distinct polar bear populations, and the healthy ones, well-managed by Canada, provide exciting hunting opportunities," said U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance Director of Federal Affairs William Horn. "The unwarranted, blanket listing sought by the Fish and Wildlife Service will bring an immediate end to the hunts that help the populations remain stable."
The U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance is preparing comments to submit to the FWS opposing the proposal. A final decision on the listing will be made in Dec. 2007 after a 12-month public comment period and scientific review.
Barring U.S. sportsmen from polar bear hunting in Canada will cause more harm than good. For example, the polar bear populations in the Canadian Arctic are thriving in part because American hunters, who cannot pursue the animals in the U.S. due to restrictions in the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, spend thousands of dollars to hunt the animals abroad. The money is then invested in the resource to ensure healthy populations. 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 populations will then, in fact, be at risk.
The FWS proposal is in response to a lawsuit filed by environmental groups. In 2005, the Center for Biological Diversity, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Greenpeace sued the agency after it failed to respond to petitions that sought protection for the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act. The groups believe the animals are threatened by the shrinking of Arctic sea ice as a result of prospective climate change.
"FWS says shrinking sea ice that might occur over the next 40 years, caused by climate change, is the primary factor that may impact polar bears," adds Horn. "There is tangible evidence that hunting is beneficial to the healthy polar bear populations, but the Fish and Wildlife Service's proposal to list all of the bears as threatened is based on speculation that climate change may be an issue. Even if it is, listing the animals as threatened and cutting off hunting opportunities will not solve the problem associated with climate change."
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For more information about how you can protect your rights as a sportsman, contact The U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance, 801 Kingsmill Parkway, Columbus, OH 43229. Phone (614) 888-4868. E-Mail us at info@USSPORTSMEN.org