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H.R. 991, Polar Bear Trophy Importation

Friday, October 21, 2011

H. R. 991, introduced by Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) would allow the Secretary of the Interior to issue import permits for polar bear trophies legally taken in Canada before the Secretary of the Interior changed the listing of all polar bears globally to the status of "threatened."

The 1994 amendments to the Marine Mammal Protection Act authorized the Secretary of the Interior to issue import permits for polar bear trophies taken from approved populations in Canada.  Since that time, polar bear trophies taken in legal hunts from these populations were approved for importation into the United States, with a $1,000 fee paid for each trophy imported.

On May 15, 2008, the Department of the Interior reversed that policy by listing all polar bears world-wide as a threatened species. That listing, which NRA has held is not appropriate for the polar bear populations of Canada, made the importation of any polar bear trophy illegal, including trophies taken before the listing was abruptly changed.

Currently, bears legally taken before the change in the listing are being stored in Canada in limbo.  Preventing the importation of these polar bear trophies would obviously have no impact on the polar bear populations and keeping them in Canada provides no conservation value.

While NRA opposes the listing all polar bears as threatened, H.R. 991 would not require a change in the polar bear listing, and would not allow importation of polar bear trophies taken after May 15, 2008.  It would simply address the inequity caused by the abrupt change in the listing for those hunters who had already legally taken polar bears.

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