By Julian Hattem
Hunters cannot import skins or rugs made from polar bears for their own personal display, a federal court affirmed on Tuesday.
Since 2008, polar bears have been listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act and protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) used to prevent hunters from importing pelts and other parts of the animals.
Hunters, led by the Safari Club International argued that they should be allowed to import animals from the Canadian Arctic that were killed prior to the designation. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit agreed with a lower court in siding with the FWS, prohibiting those imports.
The hunting advocates had argued that the FWS had not properly triggered additional protections for polar bears under the Marine Mammal Protection Act by appropriately designating that their supply was sufficiently depleted. The court, however, dismissed that idea and found the agency had declared polar bears depleted in determining that they were threatened.
It is "quite clear," Judge David Tatel wrote in the court's decision that Congress intended to grant the law's protections "to all depleted species, regardless of how they achieve their depleted status."
The court also disagreed with the hunters' argument that the law does not prevent imports of species that were not protected at the time they were killed. More....