Safeguard Polar Bears by Eliminating Trade in Their Parts

Mounting habitat loss from climate change, toxic pollution, and oil development is driving the world's polar bears to the brink of extinction. Despite these threats, Canada still allows hunters to kill these animals for their skins, claws, teeth, and other parts. The international polar bear trade has spiked in recent years, with hunters cashing in on high prices. Canada’s commercial export of polar bear parts has increased dramatically since 2007, with the parts of more than 400 bears exported in 2013.

Richard and Susan Day/Danita Delimont/Offset

NRDC is fighting to ban this trade and secure permanent protections for the embattled species. Scientists estimate that two-thirds of all polar bears will likely be extinct by 2050 if the international community fails to reduce climate change pollution and address other threats. We successfully petitioned to have the animals listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, citing the risk of extinction due to melting sea-ice habitat.

Yet 15,000 of the world’s up to 25,000 polar bears live in Canada, the last nation in the world to permit polar bear hunting for international trade. The territory of Nunavut even tripled the hunting quota for one population in 2011.

Mike Schumann/schuie/iStock

NRDC works in the global arena to stop this practice. We have supported the United States in its proposals to ban the commercial polar bear trade under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES. We offer expert analysis and provide supporting evidence in favor of limiting the harm to polar bears from profit-driven trade. And we attend CITES meetings to encourage other nations to support banning unsound trade and to ensure that any formal review of the trade is done in a rigorous and comprehensive manner.

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