Canada, along with the four other polar bear range states, reaffirmed its commitment to the sustainable conservation of polar bears Dec. 4 at an international forum in Moscow, Russia.
The forum marks the 40th anniversary of the landmark Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears, signed in Oslo in 1973 by Canada, the United States, Russia, Greenland and Norway.
Those groups committed to continue working to fully implement that agreement, but Canadian Inuit attending the forum say that international cooperation must respect Inuit knowledge and livelihoods, said a Dec. 4 news release from Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.
“I urge all range states to put these words into action,” said ITK president Terry Audla, who is in Moscow this week. “Cooperation, in this sense, must respect Inuit knowledge and Inuit rights, and recognize our desire to feed our families and pursue traditional and sustainable livelihoods.
Despite a “robust and responsive” polar bear management system, the ability of Canadian Inuit to hunt and trade the bears is still being challenged by animal rights groups who, on false pretenses, seek to shut down all hunting and trade of animal products, Audla said in the release.
Inuit from across Canada are in Moscow to take part in an International Forum on Conservation of Polar Bears, organized by World Wildlife Foundation Russia on behalf of Russia’s natural resources and environment ministry.
Audla pointed to two range states: the United States and Russia as chief proponents of an attempt in March to persuade CITES to ban the international trade in polar bear parts, a key revenue source for Inuit.
But in March 2013, CITES member states rejected a proposal to move the polar bear to from the Appendix II list to the Appendix I list of the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species.
Canada, the United States and Greenland each allow a limited Aboriginal polar bear hunt, although Canada is the only country that permits international trade. More....