Marine Mammal Commission Supports Greater Protections for Polar Bears from International Trade

Image removed.

With mounting evidence that global trafficking in polar bear parts (skins, skulls, claws, and teeth) is threatening polar bear populations, the Marine Mammal Commission is recommending a ban on the international commercial trade in polar bear parts.  This is a dramatic turn of events, as the Marine Mammal Commission recommended against such a proposal just two years ago.  But two years have really made a difference.  As the Commission noted in a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is considering proposing such a ban at the next meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the polar bears’ circumstances have notably changed.  Now, the Commission supports banning the global trade in polar bear products            “[b]ecause of the ongoing and predicted declines in most polar bear populations, the growing scientific documentation that polar bears are being stressed and in poorer condition in several populations, concerns about the sustainability of some of the currently authorized hunting levels, and expanding commerce in and prices for polar bear products internationally.”

The Marine Mammal Commission is an independent U.S. agency charged with overseeing the government’s conservation of marine mammals (including polar bears) and making recommendations to regulatory agencies, like the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, on the protection and conservation of marine mammals.  Here, the Commission lays out a detailed analysis of the information that has emerged over the past two years, which compels more than ever putting a stop to the killing of polar bears to supply the international market for polar bear souvenirs.  Particularly notable is the growth of the international market for polar bear skins, with notable increases in the number of pelts being offered for sale.  As the Commission notes, “[r]ising prices and demand for polar bear skins are posing new risks to polar bear populations as unregulated populations are exposed to greater hunting pressure, quotas for regulated populations are being pushed upward by political pressure, and those quotas are more likely to be met fully.”

With the growing threat of climate change – there’s new evidence every year of polar bear populations suffering from global warming – we can’t afford new risks that compound the threats to polar bear survival.  The world no longer has any polar bears to spare, and certainly not to end up as a rug in front of someone’s fireplace.  You can add your voice to the Marine Mammal Commission’s support of banning the sale of polar bear parts on the international market here.