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Hearing Held On H.R. 991, Polar Bear Trophy Importation Bill

Friday, May 13, 2011

Earlier this year, U.S. Rep. Don Young (D-Alaska) introduced H.R. 991, a bill to allow the importation of polar bear trophies by hunters who had completed their hunts before the Secretary of the Interior changed the listing of all polar bears globally to the status of "threatened."

Because of this abrupt change in the status of polar bears, 41 American hunters who completed bear hunts before the listing was changed have been denied the ability to import their trophies.  Congressman Young's bill would remedy this unfair situation by allowing these trophies to be imported, and provide importation fees amounting to as much as $45,000, which would be paid to the U.S.-Russia Polar Bear Conservation Fund.  This funding is used to enhance and protect polar bear populations in Alaska and Russia. In cooperation with the NRA, 23 conservation and hunting groups have endorsed passage of this legislation.

On May 12, the House Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs Subcommittee of the Committee on Natural Resources held a hearing on H.R. 991, and heard testimony from supporters of the bill, including hunters who were refused importation permits. 

Additionally, the acting director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Rowan Gould, stated the agency did not oppose the intent of H.R. 991 and offered to provide additional input to refine the language of the bill.

This hearing is the first step in advancing this legislation in the House of Representatives. Passage of this legislation will redress the immediate problem created by the improper change in designation of the entire global polar bear population.  A related bill, H.R. 990, also introduced by Rep. Young, would address the listing issue on a more permanent basis.

Please contact your member of Congress and urge their support for H.R. 991.

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