Encourage United Kingdom to Lead European Union Toward Polar Bear Protection

polar bear trade

Target: United Kingdom Environment Minister Richard Benyon

Goal: Rally the European Union for polar bear protection.

The United States, supported by Russia, has recently proposed upgrading the polar bear’s Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) status from Appendix II to Appendix I. Upgrading the polar bear’s status to Appendix I would place the polar bear among the planet’s most endangered species, thus, effectively banning international trade on polar bears and polar bear products. The U.K. Environment Minister Richard Benyon has announced that his nation will be supporting this proposal to ban the global trade in polar bear parts. However, other key European nations are still undecided about stricter polar bear protection. Call on Mr. Benyon to promote his strong stance to his European Union counterparts and other CITES parties before the CITES meeting in March 2013.

The polar bear is perhaps one of the most iconic species representing the movement toward environmental protection and conservation. Threatened by the loss of sea ice habitat from increasingly warmer temperatures, polar bear populations are facing a steady decline in numbers. In addition to climate change, another major threat to polar bears is the international supply and demand of polar bear parts. Although this species is imperiled, polar bears are still being hunted for sport and commercial trade purposes in Canada. Currently, Canada is the only country in the world that still permits international trade of these animals. Visiting tourists pay up to $20,000 to track and hunt polar bears on dog-sleds. In the last decade, 32,350 polar bear specimens, including skins, claws, teeth, and body parts, were traded internationally. The demand for polar bears in commercial trade has sharply increased, with the price of polar bear hides more than doubling since 2008. Polar bear hides are reported to be priced as much as $63,000 in China.

Polar bears have an important role in the overall health of the marine environment. Since they are at the top of the food chain, polar bears regulate the population of other species. Leftover polar bear kills also provide food for scavenging species. The presence of polar bears provides a balancing system to the fragile Arctic ecosystem. The continuation of polar bear trade, combined with global climate change, greatly threatens the survival of this species. By signing the petition below, you will help encourage Mr. Benyon to lead the European Union toward a Yes vote on a proposal to ban the global trade of polar bear parts.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Benyon,

I am delighted to hear of your support of the ban on international trade in polar bear parts. The United Kingdom has show great leadership in the past by ratifying treaties to combat climate change. However, I am deeply concerned that other nations of the European Union are still undecided about supporting stricter polar bear protection under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

With the polar bear population steadily declining, it is alarming that Canada continues to allow the hunting of this majestic species for sport and profit. To combat this unethical act, the United States, with the support of Russia, has recently proposed to upgrade the polar bear’s CITES status and effectively ban the international trade of polar bear parts. The final decision of this proposal rests in the 27 votes of the European Union. As the demand for polar bear hides continues to soar, with prices more than doubling since 2008, Europe must act now to prevent further population decline for the polar bear. For polar bears to have a chance at survival, the international community must rally around this iconic species and protect polar bears from the needless threat of commercial trade. I firmly believe that the United Kingdom can set a prime example for the European Union and lead the way toward saving this magnificent species from a cruel and unconscionable fate.

It is my sincerest hope that you will continue to support the efforts to protect the polar bear under CITES and call on the rest of the European Union to do the same. Britain’s leadership will be vitally important in the decisive weeks ahead. Please encourage other nation’s leaders to support this proposal and rally the European Union toward a Yes vote on stronger polar bear protections at the CITES meeting in March.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Petrusbarbygere via Wikimedia Commons

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