Polar bear trade to remain legal

Ban on sale of bear parts -- proposed by White House -- ruled unfair to Canadian Inuits

By Alex Halperin

Published March 7, 2013 7:11PM (EST)

An Obama proposal to ban the trade of polar bear pelts, hides and other body parts was rejected by an international gathering of conservationists after a plea from Canadian Inuits. The ban was intended to help save the wild polar bear population, as global warming threatens to reduce its numbers by as much as two thirds in coming decades. But the Canadians claimed that “selling polar bear hides enables us to support ourselves,” Terry Audla, a spokesman for the Inuits, told the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), according to the Washington Post:

Canada is the only nation with polar bears that allows sports hunting. With two-thirds of the world’s polar bear population, Canada exports several hundred polar bear hides and parts for sale each year.

...Each year, an average of 3,200 items made from polar bears – including skins, claws, and teeth – are reported to be exported or re-exported from countries in which the animals live. Polar bear hides sell for an average of $2,000 to $5,000, while maximum hide prices have topped $12,000.

Alex Halperin

Alex Halperin is news editor at Salon. You can follow him on Twitter @alexhalperin.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Animal Kingdom Animals Canada Conservation Environmentalism Inuit Polar Bears