Polar bear hunting is quite a lucrative racket, considering a single hide can net $22,000 — four times the going rate in 2007, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. With prices like these, hunters have little reason to stop the kill. Even worse, polar bear hunting is fully legal in Canada, where much of the slaughter goes on. And hunting is becoming more popular than ever, despite the decline of the species.

At the Polar Bear Agreement meeting in Moscow last week, experts noted that at the current rate, the polar bear population will die out. Yet conservative Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper denies this, and has refused to ban international trade of polar bear skins. All other countries with polar bears — including the United States, Norway, Greenland and Russia — already have bans in place.

There are between 22,000 and 25,000 polar bears left in the world. But instead of protecting this magnificent animal, Canada actually sells licenses to trophy hunters. Companies offer hunting safaris, where people from all over the world can kill polar bears and other animals for sport. Sixty percent of polar bears live in Canada, so this places a huge strain on the species.

Despite petitions and protest, Harper still insists that polar bear hunting is not harming the population. But according to Teresa Telecky, director of wildlife at Humane Society International, Harper is just not being truthful. At the Polar Bear Agreement, she said, “Canada’s own scientists are raising alarm about over-harvest not only in the past year but in the past three to five years. Canada and the other parties to the Polar Bear Agreement urgently need to address this problem.”

Help Stop Polar Bear Hunting

United States groups like the Humane Society and The International Fund for Animal Welfare are fighting to stop polar bear hunting, so donating to them may be helpful (and will also protect other animals).

You can also tell the Canadian government what you think of their policies by e-mailing the prime minister’s office at [email protected], or the Environment Canada National Office at [email protected].

Image by ucumari