For Immediate Release
James Navarro, Defenders of Wildlife, (202) 772-0247
Interior Department Urges Stronger International Protections for Polar Bears
Defenders of Wildlife supports move to increase polar bear protection
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of the Interior's announcement today of proposed
measures to stop the international trade of polar bears and bear parts
is seen by conservationists as a major step forward in the effort to
protect the iconic animal already seriously threatened by global
Defenders of Wildlife's president Rodger Schlickeisen praised the
Obama administration and the Department of the Interior for submitting
the proposal to next year's meeting of the Parties to the Convention on
International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
(CITES), which will be held in Doha, Qatar on March 13-25 next year.
"While we cannot immediately stop global warming from ravaging the
polar bear's sea ice habitat, one thing we can do quickly is to address
the other threats to the imperiled animal, such as their commercial
trade," Schlickeisen said. "By strengthening protections for polar
bears under CITES, we can give the polar bear some relief, while we
take the necessary steps to combat global warming. The leadership at
Interior, in office only a short time, has lots of issues demanding
attention. Wildlife advocates should be very grateful to them for
elevating this decision in such a timely manner."
The proposal would transfer the polar bear from CITES Appendix II,
which allows regulated international commercial trade, to Appendix I,
which prohibits all international commercial trade in the listed
species. The purpose of CITES is to prevent over-exploitation of
species through international trade.
The Appendix I designation would mean that countries agree to
prohibit international trade for primarily commercial purposes and thus
ensure that it will not contribute to the ongoing decrease in polar
bear numbers. Appendix I listing will not affect native subsistence
hunting or use of polar bears.
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