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U.S. says polar bear a ‘threatened species’

The Story

As evidence mounts that climate change and disappearing sea ice is jeopardizing polar bear populations, the United States takes action. In May 2008 Congress declares the polar bear a "threatened species," recognizing that the bear could soon face extinction. The implications for Nunavut could be huge if polar bear hides cannot be imported into the United States. In this CBC-TV news report, an Iqaluit man says the decision will kill the sport hunt for polar bears, a $1.5-million industry.

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: May 14, 2008
Reporter: Margo McDiarmid
Duration: 3:03

Did You know?

• Importing polar bear trophies into the United States was banned from 1973 until 1994, when new legislation allowed hunters to bring polar bear products across the border.

• By adding polar bears as a "threatened species" in its Endangered Species Act in 2008, the United States government compelled federal agencies to make decisions that would not risk the survival of bears or their sea ice habitat. In announcing the decision, U.S. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne emphasized the Endangered Species Act was not being used as a lever to control greenhouse gas emissions.

• As a threatened species, polar bears became a "depleted" species under the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act. That meant that trophy products - hides, taxidermy, and souvenirs such as claws - could not be imported into the United States.

• Less than two weeks after polar bears were named a threatened species, a hunters' lobby group called Safari Club International challenged the import ban in a federal lawsuit.

• Since 1991 the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada has designated polar bears as a species "of special concern," which it defines as: "A wildlife species that may become threatened or endangered because of a combination of biological characteristics and identified threats." 




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