Polar Bears Could Go Extinct If Trophy Hunting Doesn’t Stop

By Mayukh Saha / Truth Theory

It would be an understatement to say that the Polar bears are in a danger. The iconic species features in the IUCN Red List under the ‘vulnerable’ category. Canada has assigned them the status of ‘special concern’, while the US considers them to be threatened. In short, they’re recognized to be in danger everywhere. This danger is mainly due to trophy hunting.

The United States recently announced its refusal to join in the international ban that is imposed on the commercial trade of hides of polar bears. This decision has got a bitter-sweet response from people and experts alike. Native Inuit organizations are applauding the decision since it gives them the sovereign right to hunt the animal for pelts and meat. The pelts earn them over $80,000.

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The decision, however, has alarmed others regarding the unsustainable rate of trophy hunting. The renowned conservationist and wildlife photographer Ole Liodden finds it important to put a blanket ban on the commercial trade of polar bear hides to save the species from extinction.

According to the estimates, about fifty-thousand polar bears died between 1960 and 2016. Out of this, around 0ne-fifth were the victims of trophy hunting. IUCN observes that merely 20,000- 25,000 of them are surviving in their natural habitats.

An agreement that was internationally made in the 1960s, bans ship and aerial-based hunting of polar bears. Liodden finds this insufficient. According to him, what matters is sustainability, how quickly the species can reproduce and how they cope up with climate change.

Indigenous tribes of Canada and the US have hunted them for centuries but the phenomena of trophy hunting came into existence only in the 1940s. This was when their population started going down rapidly. Rich trophy hunters bagged big polar bears, taking advantage of the international ban on the ship and aerial-based hunting.

Canada is the only country where hunting these bears is still legal. Conversely, the Canadian government promotes and encourages this practice thereby promoting trophy hunting.

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Four days ago we parked our expedition ship in the drifting ice at approx. 81,5 degree North. There were no polar bears to see in the evening and early night, but when the fog lifted in the morning a polar bear visited our ship. I had my polcam UW setup ready and got some nice wide angle split photos. One of the best ways of photographing polar bears in Svalbard is to just wait in the ice, and let the polar bears decide if they want to come close or not. ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ #svalbard #polarbear #liodden #instaanimal #animals #earthpix #natureaddict #earthimage #allnatureshots #special_shots #exklusive_shot #igworldclub #wildlifeplanet #earthimage #globaldaily #WildlifeAddicts #Wildlifepage #discoverwildlife #anmlsworld #exclusive_animals #animalplanet_Fan #wildlifecentral #insta_animal #naturegeography #Instagram #ilovenorway #igscwildlife #cewejapanphoto #sonynordic #sailracingofficial

A post shared by Ole Jørgen Liodden (@ojlwildphoto) on

According to the experts, the bear population will dwindle down to almost 50% by the mid-century, if the current rates of global warming and trophy hunting continue.

Eduardo Goncalves founded the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting, he questions why are we allowing trophy hunting in the first place? He calls it to be a crime against nature.

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Polar Bears International finds its habitats to be threatened and they can’t vouch for their strategies to keep the polar bear population at a healthy level. However, they said that hunting will not affect the polar bear’s population much as of now.

A researcher, Peter Molnar doesn’t share this optimistic view, he said that the climate change coupled with trophy hunting would lead to grim outcomes if not taken care of soon.

Image credit: Ondrej Prosicky

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