Washington, DC – America’s premier sportsmen’s rights organization testified before U.S. Senators yesterday on the key connection between hunting and successful wildlife conservation.
United States Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA) Director of Federal Affairs William P. Horn testified before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and why the proposed listing of polar bears as threatened throughout its range will prove detrimental to healthy and presently sustainable polar bear populations.
Horn was invited to testify by Senator Barbara Boxer, Chairman of the Committee and Senator James Inhofe, the ranking Republican on the Committee. Horn served as Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish, Wildlife and Parks, the agency responsible for the ESA, from 1985 to 1988, before joining USSA. He is considered one of America’s top lawyers on endangered species law, and also serves on the Board of Environmental Sciences and Toxicology of the National Academy of Sciences.
Environmental organizations want polar bears listed as threatened because of projections that Arctic sea ice will diminish in 50-plus years as a result of greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.
In his testimony Horn pointed out that listing polar bears as threatened based on a 50-year prediction would produce adverse consequences, not only for polar bears, but for all wildlife. Environmentalists plan to use the listing as a means to force reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles and power plants among other things. The groups will likely bring lawsuits to force the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to enforce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions regulations. The enormous costs of overhauling and fundamentally changing the FWS mission will leave little if any money for actual endangered species or other traditional fish and wildlife programs.
“The USSA is committed to making sure that lawmakers are aware that sportsmen continue to be the key element in the conservation of wildlife,” said USSA president Bud Pidgeon. “Listing the polar bear as threatened will stop limited hunting, and cut off key revenues that fund vital polar bear research. We are proud to represent sportsmen before Congress on this critical issue.”
Science shows that many polar bear populations are at historic highs and that there are no imminent threats to the healthy, huntable populations.
It is well established that many polar bear populations are at or near record highs, have increased substantially since the 1960s, and sustain carefully managed subsistence and sport hunting programs. The latter programs, conducted primarily in Canada, generate important local income and ensure that Native communities are vested in polar bear conservation. The partnership between these communities and Canadian wildlife officials has yielded effective scientific bear conservation and management resulting in improved sustainability of 11 of 13 polar bear populations in Canada.
American sportsmen comprise approximately 90 percent of the foreign hunting clientele in Canada, pouring millions of dollars into polar bear conservation and management, not to mention the financial benefits to the local communities. American hunters are the primary source of essential funding for conservation and research that allows for continued success of the populations.
The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance is a national association of sportsmen and sportsmen’s organization that protects the rights of hunters, anglers and trappers in the courts, legislatures, at the ballot, in Congress and through public education programs. For more information about the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance and its work, call (614) 888-4868 or visit its website, www.ussportsmen.org.