Sunday, March 21, 2010

Proposed Ban On Polar Bear Trade Defeated

I've been meaning to comment on this recent headline regarding polar bears for a few days now but haven't found the time until now. It seems that the polar bear has become the poster child in recent years for the climate change nuts and any other person who feels the need to bash Aboriginal hunters for "over hunting."

Groups like Polar Bears International and IFAW love to make the case that over hunting is a major threat. More mainstream groups such as the World Wildlife Federation mention over hunting, but more importantly, climate change, as a big problem facing sustainable polar bear populations. Actually Polar Bears International. IFAW and many other like-minded groups mention climate change as well but find they get more mileage for their causes by plugging the over hunting angle. Also, it helps if you portray polar bears as soft, cute and cuddly rather than as they actual are in the real world.*

Stats on bear populations vary depending on what source you want to look at but I decided to do some quick math with some of the numbers that are most commonly tossed around just to get an idea of what the situation is really like. Now depending on who you talk to, current international polar bear populations lie somewhere between 20,000 to 25,000. Let's be conservative and for the sake of argument, take the figure of 20,000 as accurate. Approximately 65% of the world's total number of polar bears are found in Canada. That's around 13,000 cuddly bears. It's important to mention that each community in Nunavut, where the bulk of Canada's bears are found uses a quota system for harvesting bears. Something like 300 bears are hunted for sport each year. 300...out of 13,000. That's about 2% of the population. Let's be honest, if the big threat here is climate change, as many alarmist groups emphatically state, then how is a trade ban going to solve things? I would submit that Canada has a much better management system in place than say that other large country across the top of the North Pole. Perhaps the alarmists should pay more attention to Russia.

Now, why US-based groups fighting to put a trade ban in place, fail to mention that a mere 2% of Canada's bear population is taken yearly through sport hunting, is interesting. I wonder why? I largely suspect that by having a ban in place, the US, by far, one of the world's major contributors to green house gas emissions, can give the impression of actually doing something. A ban is much cheaper, and consequently more political palatable to voters. It also draws attention away from issues surrounding drilling for oil in Alaska.

*Interestingly, the kids are here watching a DVD this morning and got pretty excited over a preview of a movie about Knut, the young polar bear raised in captivity. The preview mentions climate change rather than over hunting as a threat and, mean step-dad that I am, I pointed out to the kids that Knut is now fully grown, prone to follow his natural instincts to hunt and eat, and consequently, likely not the best of choices for a family pet.


Melodie said...

•Long drawn out sigh that lasts for days•

I wish that they would lay off of the polar bears. They tell everyone else to leave the polar bears alone, but they're the ones that don't leave them alone...

I always love your posts. Keep them coming!