US, Russia unite to save polar bears, proposal rejected at CITIES

The United States and Russia came together in Bangkok at the 16th Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITIES) to discuss the future of Earth’s polar bear population, according to The New York Times.

The countries proposed to ban international trade in polar bear parts, such as claws, fangs and fur. However, the proposal was rejecting by Canada, Greenland and Norway.

Polar bears could benefit greatly from reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, which lead to the melting of sea ice. Photo from IStockphoto.

Polar bears could benefit greatly from reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, which lead to the melting of sea ice. Photo from IStockphoto.

The European Union, in hopes of creating a compromise, tried to offer a system where the trade would be regulated with an export quota and tagging system, but this was also rejected.

According to the article, this rejection highlights “the difficulties of reaching a global consensus on protecting many kinds of endangered wildlife.”

The convention also questioned if the bears’ endangered status should be upgraded to the highest level of protection, according to Environmental News Network. Others wanted similar changes for species of sharks, manta rays and freshwater sawfish. This is still under consideration.

Polar bears are suffering under many conditions: shrinking habitats, closer interactions with civilizations, grizzlies moving farther north and increasing polar bear hide prices.

A similar proposal was made in 2010. At that time, Russia and Norway voted against the United States. Now that Russia has reversed its stance, Canada is the only country to allow polar bear products to be exported into the country. Their defense is that the Inuit communities rely on polar bears for food and trade – both necessary for survival.

The government has helped polar bears before, but around 100 bears are still illegally killed each year. Their life span is shrinking and interactions between human and bear are becoming more common.

Polar bears’ status as an endangered species is still unknown and should be announced within the next few days.

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