For Immediate Release
Study Finds Little Local Economic Value in Trophy Hunting Polar Bears Hunts are of economic importance only to a handful of individuals
jointly released today by Humane Society International and
International Fund for Animal Welfare reveals that polar bear hunts
provide little economic benefit to Canada’s Inuit communities. The
study shows that the income derived from polar bear trophy hunting
amounts to only a small fraction of Northern Canada’s economy, and is
concentrated in few hands.
bears in the wild live entirely within five countries: Canada,
Greenland (Denmark), Norway, Russia and the United States. There are
presently between 20,000 and 25,000 polar bears and the number is
decreasing. Leading polar bear scientists believe that two-thirds of
the world’s polar bears will be lost by mid-century because of habitat
loss due to climate change. Canada is the only country that allows
international commercial sale of hides of polar bears killed by
indigenous hunters and is the only country that allows polar bear
The findings of this report include:
- In the 1980s, the Government of the Northwest Territories (which at
the time included all of present day Nunavut) established programs to
promote and develop Inuit-led polar bear trophy hunting; there was
almost no polar bear trophy hunting in Canada prior to that time.
- Nearly two thirds of Inuit communities do not host polar bear trophy hunts annually despite government prodding.
- Gross revenue from polar bear trophy hunts accounts for only one tenth of one percent of the economy of Nunavut;
- For 98% of polar bear trophy hunting communities in Nunavut and
the Northwest Territories, hunting revenue accounts for 2% or less of
the average income of Inuit residents of these communities.
- In only 3 of 31 polar bear trophy hunting communities in Canada
does the hunting revenue exceed 2% and even then it is only 10-13% the
average income of Inuit residents of these communities.
- The pool of Canadians for whom income from polar bear trophy
hunting has made a decisive economic difference is likely several dozen
individuals at most.
- The number of polar bears trophy hunted in Canada increased from 4
in 1970-1981 to 96 in 1995-2008. This growth is attributed to a change
in U.S. law that allowed American trophy hunters to import polar bears.
In 2008, the U.S. banned polar bear trophy imports once again when the
species was listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
“Polar bears are already standing on thin ice. The last thing they
need is a gun pointed at them,” said Jeff Flocken, D.C. office director
for IFAW. “Hunting a species in danger of extinction is by definition
unsustainable. Now we also see that there is almost no local fiscal
benefit to continued killing of these animals. The time to end the
trophy hunt of polar bears is now.”
A coalition of wildlife groups including Humane Society
International and International Fund for Animal Welfare is calling for
an international ban on the trade in polar bear parts—such as rugs-- at
the upcoming meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention
on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora,
set for March 13-25 in Doha, Qatar.
“No country wants to be known as the one that put the last nail in
the coffin of the polar bear,” said Dr. Teresa Telecky, wildlife
department director for Humane Society International. “We implore CITES
member countries to eliminate the threat that international commercial
trade poses to this rapidly declining species.”
About HSI (Humane Society International)
Humane Society International and its partner organizations
together constitute one of the world's largest animal protection
organizations — backed by 11 million people. For nearly 20 years, HSI
has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy,
education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting
cruelty worldwide — On the Web at hsi.org. Follow HSI on Twitter.
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The International Fund for Animal Welfare works to improve animal welfare, prevent animal cruelty and abuse, protect wildlife and provide animal rescue around the world. From stopping the elephant ivory trade, to ending the Canadian seal hunt and saving the whales from extinction, IFAW works to create solutions that benefit both animals and people.