Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is requesting that the United States Department of Fish and Wildlife list the polar bear as an endangered species and that the Department take steps to abolish the hunting of this species entirely.
"The polar bear is on the top of the list threatened by global warming," said Captain Paul Watson, founder and president of Sea Shepherd. "The species needs every individual bear to survive to help ensure that the species does not become extinct."
Sea Shepherd is also requesting that the U.S. and European governments put pressure on Canada to ban the recreational sport hunting of polar bears in Canadian territory.
About 60 percent of the world's estimated 22,000 to 27,000 polar bears live in Canada's North.
Sea Shepherd is in complete disagreement with the Greenpeace Foundation and the Center for Biological Diversity positions that the polar bear hunt should not be eliminated.
Melanie Duchin, who is with Greenpeace in Anchorage, Alaska, says her group is not against the hunting of polar bears. "If the species of certain populations against the backdrop of global warming can sustain a commercial hunt, than we're not going to oppose it," said Duchin.
Kassie Siegel, a lawyer for the Center for Biological Diversity, says if polar bears are listed under the Endangered Species Act, it might affect the importation of polar bear trophies to the United States. However, she said there are precedents whereby trophies have been allowed for animals listed under the legislation.
"We want the sport hunting to be sustainable," Siegal said. "We have some concerns about hunting levels in Greenland, in parts of Russia, and in some parts of Canada, but it was not the intent of this petition to impact sport hunting in Canada."
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is reviewing the polar bear's status and must make a decision by Dec. 27, 2006.
Sea Shepherd has written to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to request that the polar bear be listed as endangered and that polar bear "trophies" be banned from entering the United States.
"The killing of polar bears for sport is sick and perverse," said Captain Watson. "People who need to kill and destroy such magnificent creatures to satisfy their narcissistic depravity have no place in the 21st Century. All polar bear killing must be outlawed if we are to have any hope of saving this species."
"We live in a different world now," said Captain Watson. "The world of global warming requires radical changes in human behavior and eliminating recreational slaughter is a good place to begin."
The polar bear is regarded by many scientists as a marine mammal because it spends much of its life on or in the sea.
Contact information for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:
Chief Director - H. Dale Hall
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Endangered Species Program
4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Room 420
Arlington, VA 22203
To propose listing a species as endangered, click on http://www.fws.gov/Endangered/Listing/Listing.pdf