Death Knell for Polar Bears as CITES Votes Against Conservation

Mar 18, 2010, 08:15 ET from International Fund for Animal Welfare

DOHA, Qatar, March 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Ignoring the plight of polar bears, CITES Parties gathered in Doha at the 15th Conference of the Parties (CoP 15) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) voted to hasten the polar bear's demise by failing to support an uplisting to Appendix I which would have banned all international commercial trade in the bears and their parts.

"CITES parties have turned their backs on this iconic species," said Jeff Flocken, IFAW DC Director and member of a polar bear coalition which consists of the Animal Welfare Institute, Defenders of Wildlife, Eurogroup for Animals, Humane Society International, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Natural Resources Defense Council, ProWildlife, and the Species Survival Network.

"With only 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears remaining, CITES Parties have chosen to ignore the latest science, which predicts the population will decline by two-thirds by 2050.

"Polar bears clearly meet the criteria for an uplisting to Appendix I, yet Parties are using the fact that climate change poses the greater long-term threat to the species as an excuse to do nothing about immediate threats hastening their decline.

"No one argues against the fact that climate change is the biggest threat to the long-term survival of the polar bear. However hundreds of bears are killed each and every year to supply an unnecessary commercial trade in polar bears such as skins, claws and jaws.

"Parties had an opportunity to take action to save more than 3,000 polar bears from commercial trade over the next decade – yet they turned their backs.

"In years to come, people will look back on this moment with great shame."

The final vote was 48 votes in favour of the uplisting, 62 against and 11 Parties abstained.

SOURCE International Fund for Animal Welfare