Thursday, December 28, 2006

Polar bears to be designated "endangered" - boo hoo, NU?

Over the next year the United States Fish and Wildlife Service will be considering a proposal to designated polar bears as endangered. At first glance this seems a no-brainer, given that polar bears have been suffering a multi-whammy:
  • a decline in their sea ice breeding areas,
  • a decline in their foodstocks,
  • the release of manmade toxins normally stored in fat due to their lower food intake and
  • their objectification by Coca-Cola every Christmas.
The Nunavut territorial government doesn't think this is a good idea, according to the CBC. My first thought that this is a Inuit traditional rights issue, like the hunters in B.C. allowed to use hunting rifles at night because night hunting is a tradition of First Nations. But the USFWS doesn't have jurisdiction over Canada anyway. No, this is about US fatcats coming north for "sport" hunting - $20,000 for a guarantee to shoot a polar bear - for extra you can shoot an elk and have the meat shipped to your home. According to the USFWS the west Hudson Bay bear population has substantially declined and they are acting to prevent a similar decline in Alaskan populations.

In the Northwest Territory, meanwhile, hunting outfitters oppose decreased "harvest size"of the Bathurst caribou even with a 73% reduction in the herd size in the last twenty years. Sometimes responsible government includes telling you your job is not good for the society you live in and maybe you need to find another one.

Much as though I like the thought of relieving stupid Americans of their money, as traders in Killarney have done for generations, I think it's time to put an end to the polar bear sport hunt and if that means compensating the government of Nunavut with federal money to turn the bear guides into federal wildlife officers and Arctic Rangers and to increase radar coverage to track illegal helicopter hunts then so be it.
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