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January 28, 2013

HSI/UK Welcomes DEFRA Pledge to Help Stop Polar Bear Trade

Environment minister declares support for ban on international trade in polar bear products

Humane Society International/United Kingdom

  • Join us, say: "I'm There for the Polar Bear". John Pitcher/iStock

London—Humane Society International/UK is delighted to welcome a pledge from DEFRA’s environment minister Richard Benyon that the United Kingdom will support efforts to ban international global trade in polar bears and their parts.

This is a significant step forward for HSI’s “I’m There For The Polar Bear” campaign, aimed at ending the killing of hundreds of polar bears whose parts are traded every year on the global market as rugs, trophies and ornaments.

HSI/UK’s campaign involves intensive lobbying, public petitioning and an open letter to Benyon signed by a host of celebrities including Joseph Fiennes, Bear Grylls and Brian Blessed urging the Minister to be a champion for polar bears by supporting the U.S. proposal to afford the species Appendix I protection under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

“Humane Society International/UK applauds Richard Benyon for clearly indicating his government’s recognition of the precarious position in which this iconic species finds itself, and the need for us to do all we can to protect polar bears against any threat to their survival,” said HSI/UK’s Executive Director Mark Jones. “We now urge Mr Benyon to promote his strong stance to his European Union counterparts and other CITES parties. With UK backing, the U.S. proposal to give polar bears maximum protection against international trade has a much stronger chance of success, but the battle to help these animals is not over yet. We must continue to secure every ‘yes’ vote possible before the CITES meeting in Bangkok in March.”

Celebrities joined HSI to say "I'm There for the Polar Bear".

In a statement to the media, Benyon confirmed: “The UK has a strong track record in leading international efforts to control the trade in endangered species. We support the U.S. objective to conserve polar bears and we are actively working with the US and other countries for a ban on trading of polar bear pelts as we believe this will help safeguard the species."

International commercial trade is a major threat to polar bear survival, second only to loss of habitat from climate change. Canada is the only country in the world that still permits international trade in these animals, hundreds of whom are hunted for the global market every year. The U.S.—which over the last decade has been the world’s largest importer of polar bear parts—has proposed awarding maximum Appendix I protection for polar bears under CITES. European countries such as Denmark, Norway, Germany and the UK also import. Some 568 polar bear parts were legally imported into the UK in the last decade.

ENDS

Media Contact: Wendy Higgins, +44(0)7989 972 423, whiggins@hsi.org

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Humane Society International/UK and its partner organisations together constitute one of the world's largest animal protection organisations — backed by 11 million people. For nearly 20 years, HSI has been working for the protection of all animals through the use of science, advocacy, education and hands-on programmes. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide—on the Web at hsiuk.org.

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