SCI Takes Battle Over Polar Bear Imports to the U.S. Supreme Court
Washington, DC – Safari Club International (SCI) today filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court asking the Court to overturn the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2008 listing of the polar bear as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. After the listing of the species, private conservation funding generated through sustainable use hunting evaporated. By filing this petition, SCI is seeking to rectify this bad public policy.
“The listing of the polar bear was not called for under the law or science,” said SCI President Craig Kauffman. “The polar bear enjoys historically high population numbers and occupies its entire historic range. Canada has the best and most scrutinized conservation program in the world for its polar bear populations. The listing of the polar bear was based on speculative projections about the impact of climate change on its habitat. The listing has done — and will continue to do — more harm than good.”
The listing led to a ban on the import of polar bear trophies from Canada by U.S. hunters. Before the ban went into effect, U.S. hunters had been allowed to import polar bears harvested from six approved populations in Canada. These imports generated almost $1,000,000 in fees that was used for polar bear research and conservation in the U.S. and Russia. U.S. hunters also contributed millions of dollars annually to local communities and companies, further encouraging sound management of the species. The listing of the polar bear has eliminated these sources of conservation dollars, to the detriment of the species.
SCI is joined in filing the petition by Conservation Force and the Congress of Racial Equality. All three groups sued the FWS in 2008 over the listing of the polar bear. The parties have been litigating the case in the District Court and U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia since that time. Both of those courts upheld the listing of the polar bear.
SCI and the other parties argued to the Supreme Court that the listing was contrary to the ESA in several ways. First, the FWS failed to establish that the polar bear meets the definition of a threatened species. Second, the FWS failed to explain its conclusion that the bear qualifies as “threatened” despite the fact that the modeling on which the Service relied indicates that 6,000-8,000 bears will exist 45 years from now. And third, the FWS failed to take in account Canada’s extremely successful conservation program, including sustainable use hunting, before listing the species.
This will mark the fourth time that SCI has ventured to the Supreme Court. In one case, the Supreme Court cited SCI’s brief in its published opinion. SCI has filed Supreme Court briefs in cases involving depictions of animal cruelty, the Second Amendment, and the sound management of roadless areas of federal land.
The Supreme Court likely will decide whether to review the polar bear case sometime in the fall. While SCI and the other groups have made strong arguments for reviewing this case, the Court regularly receives around 10,000 petitions a year and grants fewer than 100. The future of successful hunting-based conservation programs in Canada and the ability of U.S. hunters to contribute to those programs hang in the balance.
“All hunters and individuals concerned with the expansive overreach by the ESA should consider financially supporting SCI, as fights at the Supreme Court are costly and require considerable resources,” concluded Kauffman.
For those interested in making a financial contribution please send donations Attn: Litigation, Safari Club International, 501 2nd St, NE, Washington, DC 20002.
MEDIA CONTACT: Nelson Freeman; Nfreeman@safariclub.org
Safari Club International – First For Hunters is the leader in protecting the freedom to hunt and in promoting wildlife conservation worldwide. SCI’s has approximately 200 Chapters worldwide and its membership represents all 50 of the United States as well as 106 other countries. SCI’s proactive leadership empowers sportsmen to be contributing community members and participants in sound wildlife management and conservation. Visit the home page www.safariclub.org or call (520) 620-1220 for more information.