10/28/2014 06:00 pm ET Updated Dec 28, 2014

Saving the Canadian Polar Bear


As if it isn't bad enough that the Canadian seal hunt is the largest slaughter of marine animals in the world, now Canada is the only country still allowing polar bears to be hunted for their skins and body parts. Once again, Canada has come under fire from the international community because polar bears are killed for profit at a time when their very existence is threatened by global warming.

At a meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), both the UK and Norway demanded Canada's trade in polar bear parts come under review as it is contributing to the demise of the species.

The European Union has already placed a ban on imports from Canadian polar bears in the Kane Basin and Baffin Bay. Since 2008, the U.S. has listed polar bears as an endangered species, banning the export of polar bear parts -- known as trophies -- from Canada.

A poll conducted in Canada by The Humane Society of the United States found 65 percent of Canada residents believe the polar bear must be protected as an endangered species, and killing them for trophies is inhumane and should be stopped. So what are the Canadians waiting for?

According to The HSUS

• Canada is the only country allowing legal hunting of polar bears solely for international trade and sport. Each year, approximately 600 polar bears are killed in Canada, which results in a decline in the polar bear population from which they cannot recover.

• Climate change is a threat to polar bears, but the international commercial trade in parts also threatens the species. So instead of helping polar bears challenged by their environment, Canadians are moving them rapidly towards extinction.

• There is a growing international demand for polar bear hides. From 2007 to 2012, there was a 375 percent increase in the number of polar bear skins offered at auction. Until this market is shut down, much the same as the one for Canadian seal fur, polar bears will be hunted and killed.

• In Canada, the Provincial and Territorial wildlife management boards set quotas for killing polar bears. While these boards take scientific advice into account, they are under no legal obligation to be limited by that advice.

The international community is putting pressure on Canada, demanding some controls be put in place to preserves the polar bear population in a way that is consistent with their role in the ecosystem.

Additionally, Russia, Norway and The U.S., nations with polar bear populations, must demand better protection for the Canadian polar bears through an international review process.

The Canadian seal hunt is nearly defunct because nations came together and banned the sale of seal products. We must now convince our neighbors to the north that the U.S., backed by the international community, will not tolerate the sale of polar bear body parts at a time when the existence of these animals is threatened by climate change

It is not only humane; it is the right thing to do.