The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Erin McCallum, (202) 772-3217

New Safeguards for Polar Bears Voted Down at CITES Meeting

Defenders of Wildlife fears trade will lead to continued population declines for species threatened by climate change

DOHA, Qatar

Defenders of Wildlife expressed its disappointment today over the decision by the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) not to give greater protection to the polar bear. The following is a statement by Peter Jenkins, Defenders' Director of International Conservation.

"We were proud the United States made this ground-breaking proposal, the first attempt within CITES to clearly confront the looming threat of global warming and its impact on an iconic animal like the polar bear. The U.S. effort has already stimulated more protections to be put in place by Canada in terms of a reduced harvest quota for a key bear population.

"From now on, the Parties to CITES will be taking a much closer look at the connections between mortality of animals due to climate change and mortality due to commercial demand. While climate change is the major threat to polar bears, trade exacerbates the situation. We will continue to work within CITES to stop this unsustainable luxury-item trade in polar bear skins and parts."

Defenders of Wildlife is working to conserve the polar bear within CITES in coalition with numerous other conservation and humane-oriented non-profit groups, including:

* Animal Welfare Institute
* Eurogroup for Animals
* Humane Society International
* International Fund for Animal Welfare
* Natural Resources Defense Council
* ProWildlife
* Species Survival Network

Defenders of Wildlife is the premier U.S.-based national conservation organization dedicated to the protection and restoration of imperiled species and their habitats in North America.

(202) 682-9400