In 2008, the United States found that polar bears were declinging in such staggering numbers that they were added to the Endangered Species List. Climate change, habitat loss, diminishing food sources, and unsustainable hunting have all led the polar bear closer to extinction.
Now, Canada must act. By its own conservative estimates, more than a quarter of the 15,000 polar bears that live in Canada have a “high risk” of declining by 30 percent or more over the next three to four decades1. Yet, the Canadian government has not only declined to protect polar bears, it has fought international protections.
In March, participating nations will meet to discuss the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). At this meeting, Canada could take strong action by supporting greater protections for polar bears.
A recent poll2 found that an overwhelming 85 percent of Canadians support preventing the international trade in polar bears. Not only is this proposal supported within Canada, but it has broad and growing international support. The proposal to increase CITES protections for polar bears was made and is supported by the United States and Russia, two countries with similarly significant polar bear polulations. Still, the Canadian government is opposing the effort and attempting to maximize opposition.
The international trade in polar bear parts is second only to climate change in threatening the continues existence of healthy polar bear populations. Were Canada to support this CITES proposal it would have a real, demonstrable impact. On average, 441 bears are killed annually in Canada to support international trade. We can end this and begin to allow polar bears to recover. We need Canada’s help.