MANY AGREE POLAR BEARS SHOULD NOT BE LISTED AS THREATENED UNDER ESA
February 7, 2007
During today’s EPW Subcommittee hearing "Global Warming and Wildlife" a Senate Democrat on the Committee made the assertion that one of the witnesses testifying at today’s hearing, Dr. Lee Foote, associate professor at the University of Alberta, Canada, was all alone in his belief that polar bears should not be listed as "Threatened" under the Endangered Species Act in the United States
FACT: Many Canadian indigenous peoples, international governments and conservation groups clearly agree with Dr Foote’s position that the polar bear should not be listed. The following comments below were submitted by groups during the US Fish and Wildlife Service petition process regarding the listing of the polar bear:
Inuvialuit Game Council (Represents the collective Inuvialuit interest in wildlife and wildlife habitat)
"Sound polar bear populations all overlap the ISR ("Inuvialuit Settlement Region"). These populations of polar bears have helped sustain the Inuvialuit for generations to do so. Currently, these populations are healthy and thriving … we can see no justification for up-listing polar bears to ‘threatened status’ under the U.S. Endangered Species Act … "at this point in time, there is not enough information to say that polar bears are in danger of becoming extinct due to predicted shift in climate … Due to our close relationship with these populations, we, along with other user groups, would be the first to see signs of trouble and we would make sure, through the co-management system, that appropriate management actions are taken to ensure the sustainability of these populations."
Dr. Mitchell K. Taylor, Manager, Wildlife Research, Department of Environment, Government of Nunavut
"[T]’he Center for Biological Diversity and their partners in this petition (Greenpeace Inc.) are not research institutions. They are special interest groups. Conservation legislation provides them with tools to advance their agenda and values, which includes protection but not hunting. [Their petition] is a legal argument and not an objective summary of the relevant information … Polar bears have become the poster-species for doomsday prophets of global catastrophe from anthropogenic climate change. It makes a great story because it is simple and intuitive. However, the reality is much more complex … It seems clear that things in the Arctic will change, but not all changes will be negative for polar bears.""Identification of an effect on one population of 20 is not sufficient to declare a species headed for extinction; the evidence presented by the proponents does not meet the criteria test for the Endangered Species Act category: ‘Threatened."
Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated
"[W]e believe there is important information that is lacking from the petition…a listing under ESA would seriously undermine the conservation-beneficial polar bear hunting management system in Nunavut. It could potentially damage the goodwill and cooperation that has served polar bear conservation and management so well for so long in the region where the largest number of polar bears exist today, and likely will be located in the future."
"[W]e want to argue that a more broadly-informed decision with respect to the challenges posed by climate change in the Arctic is needed in order to avoid the negative impacts a listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) would cause, for American hunters, Inuit, and polar bears."
Canadian Polar Bear Administrative Committee (PBAC) (Agencies that have legal responsibility for polar bear management in Canada)
"Listing polar bears under the US ESA will not stop the impacts of climate change on loss of sea ice and polar bears … A potential listing seems excessive and unnecessarily punitive on Canadian citizens considering mechanisms are already in place in both within Canada and the US with respect to conservation of Canadian polar bear populations."
IUCN North America Sustainable Use Specialist Group
"The North American – Sustainable Use Specialist Group recommends not listing the polar bear for ES status. ES listing in this context appears to be a disingenuous re-framing of "species conservation" as an obstructionist tool in attempts to indirectly apply pressure to alter energy policy." "We oppose this action because of the real costs to northern peoples and the threats imposed on species conservation programs that are based on effective resource-user confidence and involvement in existing co-management agreements." "Listing the polar bear as endangered is an overly simplistic and possible counter-productive reaction to a questionable chain of assumed cause and effects."