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Canada shuns polar bears

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Canada is home to the world's largest population of polar bears. (Image Courtesy www.naturespicsonline.com)

During a recent vote on increasing the protection of Polar bears at the International Conference on Endangered Species, the world, including Canada, rejected new measures aimed at stemming the trade of bear parts internationally. Canada voting against this measure is of significance as it is the home to the largest Polar bear population worldwide.

The measure was brought forth by an American delegation from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in an effort to classify the species as one that is threatened with extinction from its current status as on which is not threatened unless laws to protect their body parts are introduced. The US delegation argues that the decreased polar bear habitat, largely as a result of melting arctic ice is likely to markedly impact their population.

Canada, through Environment Canada, argues however, that the case is meritless as no observable changes in the population of polar bears have been observed and that body parts that are sold arise not from commercial activity but rather arise out of subsistence from rural populations in the north.

It is hard to see who makes more of a valid case, Environment Canada or activists. It certainly is plausible that Canada does not want to stymie trade, but perhaps it is also unfair to rush to judgment as well. The case seems very similar to the case of seals, where Canada seems to be on the wrong side of activists as well. It is important to recognize the reason for Canada's stances in both cases however. It does not seem to be about money but rather an understanding that local rural populations in the north depend highly on the subsistence of hunting these animals, and barring them from this would likely have serious consequences on their ability to survive in those regions.  

Check out this site for other beautiful wildlife images, like the polar bear image in this post.