Safari Club International Sues to Overturn Ban

Wants ban on polar bear hides lifted

SCI, Bear Hunting Magazine

Safari Club International has filed its intent to sue to overturn the ban on polar bear hides, which was put in place last month when U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne declared polar bears a threatened species.

The group seeks to overturn the ban not just for bears already killed but also for kills by club members who booked and paid for hunts in 2009 and 2010.

Safari Club International attorney Doug Burdin said Wednesday that a listing under the Endangered Species Act does not create an import ban. The Fish and Wildlife Service did not follow the law in banning hides, he said.

"They never held any kind of rule-making for designating the polar bear as a depleted species under the Marine Mammal Protection Act." The organization might join the state of Alaska in suing to overturn the listing but so far has only filed to overturn the ban on importing hides, Burdin said.

Politicians from Canada's Northwest Territory traveled to Washington this week to ask Interior Department officials to lift the import ban. Bob McLeod, the Northwest Territory's minister for energy, industry and tourism, said Monday the import ban would effectively wipe out its sports hunting industry.

Safari Club International argues that income from hunters helps support polar bear research and provides an economic benefit to Canada's native communities, which provide guides and other services for hunters. A hunt can cost $40,000 to $50,000.

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