Coalition Defends Polar Bear Hunting in Senate Hearing

Washington, D.C. –
A coalition of groups representing sportsmen, banded together today to defend polar bear hunting before a politically-charged hearing in the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Safari Club International, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, the National Rifle Association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation and other groups (full list below) submitted a letter to committee members to outline the facts of the polar bear debate.

“This hearing may be a purely political exercise intended to bash the Administration,” said SCI President Dennis Anderson, “but it’s still an opportunity to educate the Members of this important committee that a ban on polar bear importation is bad policy.”

Excerpts from the letter follow here:

“An import ban would harm polar bear conservation and management in Canada and would do nothing to reduce the number of polar bears harvested in Canada. A ban on polar bear imports from Canada has no foundation in science or good policy.

(A) ban would not decrease polar bear mortality from hunting. The native holders of tags not used by U.S. hunters would simply use them to harvest polar bears for subsistence purposes. In other words, the annual “quota” the Canadian provincial governments create determines the number of polar bears harvested each year, regardless of whether some are sport hunted or all are taken in subsistence hunts. Because these quotas are set at sustainable levels, the U.S. and Canadian governments repeatedly have determined that properly regulated subsistence and sport hunting are not a threat to the polar bear populations.

In addition, sport hunting by U.S. hunters supports polar bear conservation in a number of ways. Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), each import permit includes a $1,000 fee to support polar bear research and conservation in the United States and Russia. This has resulted in close to $1,000,000 in funds for research and conservation since 1994. The $30,000-50,000 U.S. hunters pay per hunt benefit the native communities (in the amount of approximately $2,500,000 per year), encouraging conservation by the local communities and the provincial governments. In fact, the Nunavut government in Canada spends about $1,000,000 per year on polar bear research and management.

Sport hunting also helps promote sound scientific management of polar bears. Under the MMPA, the U.S. government allows imports of polar bears only from populations scientifically proven to be well-managed and sustainable. The requirement further encourages the Canadian governments to manage (e.g., set harvest quotas for) the polar bear in a sustainable manner. This management scheme has contributed to the rebound of overall population from roughly estimated numbers around 6,000-8,000 in the 1960s and 1970s to estimated numbers around 20,000-25,000 today.

In short, an import ban arising from an ESA/MMPA listing will not reduce polar bear mortality in Canada, will harm current successful polar bear conservation and management, and will harm cash-strapped native communities in Canada.  For all these reasons, the undersigned sporting and conservation groups oppose a polar bear import ban.

Sincerely,

  • Archery Trade Association
  • Boone & Crockett Club
  • Bowhunters Preservation Alliance
  • Campfire Club of America
  • Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation
  • Conservation Force
  • Dallas Safari Club
  • Houston Safari Club
  • National Rifle Association
  • National Shooting Sports Foundation
  • National Trappers Association
  • National Wild Turkey Federation
  • North American Bear Foundation
  • Pope & Young Club
  • Quality Deer Management Association
  • Ruffed Grouse Society
  • Safari Club International
  • The Wild Sheep Foundation
  • Texas Wildlife Association
  • U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance
  • Wildlife Management Institute


SCI-First For Hunters is   the leader in protecting the freedom to hunt and in promoting wildlife   conservation worldwide. SCI’s 179 Chapters represent all 50 of the United States   as well as 13 other countries. SCI’s proactive leadership in a host of   cooperative wildlife conservation, outdoor education and humanitarian programs,   with the SCI Foundation and other conservation groups, research institutions and   government agencies, empowers sportsmen to be contributing community members and   participants in sound wildlife management and conservation. Visit the home page www.safariclub.org <http://www.safariclub.org/ </exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://www.safariclub.org/> > or call (520) 620-1220 for more   information.