CSF Leads Effort To Support Polar Bear “Trophy” Bills

CSF Leads Effort To Support Polar Bear ‘Trophy’ Bills

Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation
Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation

March 10, 2009 – -(AmmoLand.com)- The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, in association with 24 other groups, sent a letter today to Rep. Nick Rahall, Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee and to Rep. Doc Hastings, Ranking Member of the Committee, urging them to support H.R. 1054 and H.R. 1055, addressing the continued importation of legally hunted polar bears from Canada. Rep. Don Young of Alaska recently filed these bills in the wake of the recent U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) decision to list polar bears as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). These polar bear “trophy” bills would amend the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) to authorize the Secretary of Interior to issue import permits to hunters with legally taken polar bear trophies from Canada that were prohibited entry into the United States after the polar bear was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

“There are no valid scientific reasons to deny these trophies entry into the United States, and no conservation value to these already harvested bears sitting in cold-storage warehouses in Canada. Also, with certain polar bear populations at record numbers, it is imperative that sport hunting of these bears be allowed in order to ensure the ongoing conservation efforts for this species, said CSF President Jeff Crane.

The USFWS has determined that this prohibition ends the current authorization to import polar bear trophies from six approved populations in Canada. However, between 38 and 41 hunters legally hunted a polar bear before the listing of the polar bear on May 15, 2008 and now cannot import their trophy due to the ESA listing. By allowing these bears into the U.S., up to $41,000 would be raised to support conservation and research activities for the U.S.-Russia polar bear population.

H.R. 1055, the Restoration of the U.S.-Russia Polar Bear Conservation Fund Act of 2009, would amend the MMPA to allow for the continued importation of legally taken polar bear trophies. This bill would not change the requirement that only those polar bear trophies taken from approved populations could be imported into the U.S. The importation of legally taken trophies under this bill would continue the funding source for the U.S-Russia Polar Bear Conservation Fund, which supports conservation efforts for the shared U.S.-Russia polar bear population.

Here is the body of the Letter:

March 10, 2009 Hon. Nick Rahall II, Chairman Committee on Natural Resources U.S. House of Representatives 1324 Longworth House Office Building Washington, DC 20515 Hon. Doc Hastings, Ranking Member Committee on Natural Resources U.S. House of Representatives 1329 Longworth House Office Building Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Rahall and Ranking Member Hastings, The undersigned groups strongly support H.R. 1054 and H.R. 1055, which address a serious problem that emerged in the wake of the recent U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) decision to list polar bears as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The USFWS has determined that this listing automatically makes the polar bear a depleted species under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and that the MMPA bans the import of depleted species. These bills would amend the MMPA to authorize the continued importation of legally taken polar bears from Canada. As stated, the USFWS has concluded that this ESA listing automatically makes the polar bear a depleted species under the MMPA. Sections 101 and 102 of the MMPA prohibit the importation of a species designated as depleted.

The USFWS has determined that this prohibition ends the authorization under section 104(c)(5) to import polar bear trophies from six approved populations in Canada. However, between 38 and 41 hunters legally hunted a polar bear before the listing of the polar bear on May 15, 2008 and now cannot import their trophy due to the ESA listing. H.R. 1054 will amend the MMPA to authorize the Secretary to issue import permits to these hunters for their legally taken polar bear trophies.

These already harvested bears provide no conservation value sitting in cold-storage warehouses in Canada. By allowing these bears into the U.S., up to $41,000 would be raised (under MMPA Section 104(c)(5)(B)) to support conservation and research activities for the U.S.-Russia polar bear population. H.R. 1055, the Restoration of the U.S.-Russia Polar Bear Conservation Fund Act of 2009, would amend the MMPA to allow for the continued importation of legally taken polar bear trophies under section 104(c)(5).

This bill would not change the requirement that only those polar bear trophies taken from approved populations (e.g., from “sport hunting program[s] based on scientifically sound quotas…”) could be imported into the U.S. The importation of legally taken trophies under this bill would continue the funding source for the U.S-Russia Polar Bear Conservation Fund, which supports conservation efforts for the shared U.S.-Russia polar bear population. Continued imports would also support conservation and management efforts in Canada by bringing much needed revenue to the remote native communities and encouraging sustainable use by the local communities and the provincial governments.

Finally, reestablishing import authority would not increase polar bear mortality from hunting because “tags” not used by U.S. hunters will be used by local natives for subsistence purposes. We thank you for taking the time to understand our concerns and invite you to contact Gary Kania at the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation ([email protected]/ 202-543-6850 x16) for any additional information or assistance in moving H.R 1054 and H.R. 1055 forward.
Sincerely,

Archery Trade Association Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies Boone and Crockett Club Bowhunting Preservation Alliance Campfire Club of America Catch-A-Dream Foundation Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation Conservation Force Dallas Safari Club Houston Safari Club National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses 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 Shikar Safari Club International Texas Wildlife Association United States Sportsmen’s Alliance Wild Sheep Foundation Wildlife Management Institute