SCI Applauds Congressional Hearing on Legislation to Import Legally Harvested Polar Bears

SCI Applauds Congressional Hearing on Legislation to Import Legally Harvested Polar Bears

Safari Club International Foundation
Safari Club International Foundation

Washington, D.C. –-( Safari Club International (SCI) applauds the House Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife for holding a hearing addressing Congressman Don Young’s (R-AK) legislation allowing the importation of approximately 40 polar bears.

Young’s bill, HR 991, will amend the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) to authorize the Secretary to issue import permits for polar bears taken legally from approved populations in Canada prior to the importation ban imposed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) on May 15, 2008.

The ban deprived these individuals of their rightful property. HR 991 would help rectify this unfortunate situation by allowing only the importation of these already harvested polar bears. The bill would not authorize the importation of bears hunted in the future.

“The harvest of these animals provided important income to local native communities, thus supporting sustainable use conservation of this species. The bears were harvested based on quotas reflecting the appropriate levels of sustainable take as determined by Canadian wildlife experts,” said SCI President Kevin Anderson. “These already harvested bears now provide no conservation value as they sit in cold-storage in Canada.”

Importation of these trophies under H.R. 991, will generate up to $45,000 in additional permit fees (under MMPA Section 104(c)(5)(B)) to use for conservation and research activities for the U.S. and Russian polar bear populations. Although these important conservation benefits are lost by preventing these imports, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has determined that the law prevents it from issuing these once-routine import permits.

“I’d like to thank Congressman Don Young for reintroducing this bill on behalf of the sportsmen community. We appreciate his continued commitment to this important issue,” concluded Anderson.

Safari Club International, along with 23 other hunting and wildlife conservation organizations, have already sent a letter to Chairman Doc Hastings and Ranking Member Edward Markey of the House Committee on Natural Resources communicating our strong support of H.R. 991.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service supports allowing imports for those hunters who both hunted and submitted a permit application prior to the listing on May 15, 2008. International Fund for Animal Welfare testified in opposition to H.R. 991. The FWS’s refusal to fully support HR 991 and IAFW’s complete opposition to this legislation undercuts the sustainable funding of polar bear research that U.S. hunters have provided for over 10 years.

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