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March 4, 2010

HSI Applauds MPs Supporting Ban in Trade of Threatened Polar Bears

Humane Society International/UK

LONDON - Humane Society International/UK applauds the 198 MPs who have signed Early Day Motion 682, calling on the government to support increased protection for polar bears, ahead of the upcoming meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. The convention takes place in Doha, Qatar from 13th to 25th March.

Polar bears are threatened with extinction. There are only 20,000 - 25,000 left in the world, and yet some countries continue to allow commercial trade in polar bear products like fur skin rugs. The skins and products of hundreds of polar bears killed each year are internationally traded and many of these come into the European Union.

“Polar bears need as much protection as we can give them. Not only are they at risk from the loss of habitat, their numbers are also at risk from the commercial trade in their skins and parts,” said Mark Glover, director of HSI UK.

More than 25,000 polar bear specimens and products (polar bear skin rugs, skins, claws, bodies, trophies, live animals) were traded internationally in the past 10 years, including more than 5,000 for commercial purposes (e.g. polar bear skin rugs) and non-commercial (e.g. trophies) purposes; exports of polar bear specimens for both purposes have increased since the early 1990s.

The Early Day Motion calls on the government to support a proposal, submitted to the upcoming meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, to give the polar bear added protection by moving it up, from Appendix II, to Appendix I, which prohibits commercial trade.

Facts:

  • The next meeting of CITES will be in Doha, Qatar from 13-25 March 2010.
  • EDM 682 has been introduced to the House of Commons by Paddy Tipping MP. It is co-sponsored by Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs: David Amess, Norman Baker, Peter Bottomley, Mike Hancock and Nick Palmer.
  • In May 2008, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the polar bear as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. In October 2009, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to list the polar bear on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, a move that would prohibit international trade in the species for primarily commercial purposes. The final decision on this proposal will be made at the next CITES meeting in March 2010 in Doha, Qatar.
  • Polar bears are completely dependent on sea ice for hunting prey, reproduction and movement. Sea ice is rapidly disappearing with the onset of climate change. Some scientists have concluded that polar bears will not survive past the end of this century due to the complete loss of summer sea ice.
  • In 2007, skins and skin pieces representing hundreds of polar bears were traded internationally for commercial purposes.
  • An Appendix I listing would not prohibit hunting of polar bears by First Nations for subsistence or export of polar bear “trophies,” contrary to claims made by some stakeholders (though it would impose a requirement to set internationally acceptable quotas) rather it would ban commercial trade in skins and skin parts.
  • In Canada, the only range state currently exporting polar bear specimens for commercial purposes, more than half of the polar bear populations identified by the Polar Bear Specialist Group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature are declining and/or have been overexploited.
  • Since entering into force in 1975, CITES has been the only international agreement that regulates international trade in wild species.
  • The treaty has been signed and ratified by 175 nations (parties).
  • Nearly 5,000 species of animals are protected by CITES against over-exploitation through international trade.

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Humane Society International and its partner organizations together constitute one of the world's largest animal protection organizations — backed by 11 million people. For nearly 20 years, HSI has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide — On the web at hsi.org.

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