Mar 07 2013
The export of polar bear skins, teeth and paws from Canada will continue unabated after a bitter debate at the world’s biggest wildlife summit ended in defeat for a US proposal to outlaw the trade.
The US, strongly supported by former cold war foe Russia, had argued that while climate change and the increasing loss of the Arctic sea ice on which polar bears hunt was the greatest threat to the 20,000 remaining in the wild, hunting was an intolerable additional pressure. The US delegation leader told the 178-nation meeting of the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species in Bangkok: “Science paints a stark future for the polar bear. An [export ban] will give the polar bear a better chance to persist in the world until we can deal with climate change.”
But Canada – home to two-thirds of the world’s polar bears and the only nation allowing exports – argued there is not enough scientific evidence to show they are in danger of population collapse. Canada says it already has strict rules to ensure hunting is sustainable, and the Canadian delegation leader has dismissed the US proposal as “based more on emotion than science”.
The result was that 38 countries voted in favour of the US proposal, with 42 against, and 46 abstaining. Some countries did not attend to vote.