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Polar Bear Listing Could Stop Hunting and Conservation Efforts.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

 
The Fish and Wildlife Service will soon be announcing its decision as to whether polar bear populations in the United States and Canada will be listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The future importation of trophies from polar bear hunts in Canada is at stake in this listing decision.  The only polar bear populations approved under the Marine Mammal Protection Act for trophy import permits to be issued are in Canada
 
The Service proposed listing a year ago based on a petition filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, the same group that led the campaign in California to ban the use of lead ammunition by hunters in areas inhabited by the California condor. The NRA submitted comments last April in opposition to the proposed listing noting that the threats associated with climate change, as they relate to melting sea ice and polar bear survival, are not well enough known to predict what will happen in a half century from now, and are outside the scoop of ESA and the authority and ability of the Service to correct.  What is absolutely certain is that the listing will threaten the future of polar bear conservation programs and research in Canada that rely on revenues from hunters, including US-based hunters.  Six populations of polar bears in Canada have been approved by the Service for trophy importationAn ESA listing will close the border to trophy imports and dry up a major source of conservation funding.
 
Not waiting for the outcome of the listing proposal, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) last June tried to take advantage of the press coverage on the polar bear to attack the government-approved hunting programs in Canada.  This anti-hunting, animal rights extremist organization teamed up with Congressman Jay Inslee (D- WA) to get an amendment through Congress that would ban trophy imports from Canada.  NRA-ILA played an instrumental role in the defeat of the amendmentjoined by Safari Club, International, the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and others in opposition.  The Canadian Government weighed in with a letter to Congress explaining how the import ban would devastate the sportsmen-funded bear conservation efforts.  This proposed hunting ban was one step in what HSUS' President, Wayne Pacelle, has called his campaign to ban hunting "species by species."  After the amendment failed by a vote of 188-242, Pacelle issued a press release claiming that Congress had "caved-in to the NRA."  The significance of this pro-hunting, pro-conservation vote in Congress cannot be overstated.

Just this past December, some radical anti-hunting forces in the U.S. Senate attempted to insert the same HSUS-inspired polar bear importation ban into the omnibus spending bill.  Because of opposition from NRA-ILA and the other groups, the effort was unsuccessful.  Had the language been inserted into the bill, it would have been virtually impossible to remove prior to it being sent to the President. 

Now, it is a matter of waiting to see the final outcome of the listing proposal.

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NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.