The polar bear crisis continues to occupy much of our time and energy in 2007. In October, the USF&WS reopened the comment period on its proposal to list all polar bear as threatened. It was reopened for the limited purpose of receiving comments on the nine United States Geological Survey reports prepared “to support…the listing.” We had plenty to comment about that purpose alone. The reports were openly biased, plus they were founded upon climate and partially-related sea ice predictions of doom decades into the future that are way beyond the state of the art.
The good news is a significant new polar bear population survey has been completed in Davis Strait this summer that shows an increase in that bear population and that the bear are fat and healthy. The ironic contradiction is that this population has long survived and thrived without any ice during the summer (summer ice), which is the projection for other areas that is the underlying cause for concern and the prophecy of doom in the reports and the petition to list that the reports are intended to “support”. In fact, many years there is no ice in Davis Strait 60 percent of the whole year, not just the summer. The bears survive even though they are without ice most of the year. Our concern is that in the rush to project doom, the reports entirely overlook the growth and stability of bear populations where there is no summer ice such as Davis Strait and Southern Hudson Bay. The false assumption that polar bear are “completely dependent” on year-round sea ice and also must have a minimum of 50 percent concentration or coverage to constitute “habitat” is wholly untrue. Nevertheless, those false assumptions are repeated ad nauseam in most of the nine USGS reports and elsewhere.
Although the 2007 September ice summaries were not out yet at this writing, there appears to have been a record ice melt this summer. That is more related to arctic winds, arctic ocean currents and clear skies (clouds protect the ice from sun rays) than to climate. The Arctic really is a closed system. Except for 2006 and apparently 2007, the climate has slightly cooled since 1998 in the US and most definitely in the Southern Beaufort Sea and Western Hudson Bay and in the Southern Hemisphere, but the media and the Reports ignore these facts. It all remains a hysteria of doom on a scale we have not ever witnessed before.
Our overriding concern is that listing the bear will harm, not help it, though many may no doubt believe it will further their careers and professional lives. The ESA does not provide substantive benefits for foreign species such as critical habitat designation, cooperative arrangements like those with states, recovery programs, funding or the host of benefits available to US domestic species that are listed. The ESA is known worldwide to be a placebo if not a feel-good hoax because of its false promise. The listing of foreign species has long proven to take away more than it gives to listed foreign game species. Witness the cheetah, markhor, black-faced impala, Canadian wood bison, China argali, tiger, black rhino, etc. There is no question that many Canadians and scientists mistakenly believe and moreover have been mislead that something great will result from a listing. That misinformation is compounding the problem. We are sparing no effort to oppose the listing now because there is little we can do afterwards….
One other threat to the polar bear and polar bear hunting has now emerged in the Senate. In May, Senator John F. Kerry (D-MA) introduced an amendment to the Marine Mammal Protection Act called the Polar Bear Protection Act of 2007. He was joined by Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME). The proposed bill would strike the MMPA language added in 1994 that permits the importation of polar bear trophies. True to form, Kerry almost scuttled that 1994 amendment to the MMPA that permits polar bear trophy imports when it was enacted in 1994. Yours truly had senior Senator Bennett Johnston (D-LA) outgun him on the related conference committee that worked out the differences between the House version that authorized imports and Kerry’s Senate version that did not. Then and now Kerry was acting as an award-winning animal rights champion of the HSUS. He continues to be the instrument of the HSUS campaign to stop big game hunting of polar bear through prohibitions of importation of the trophies.
Over the summer, nine new co-sponsors of Kerry/HSUS’s Polar Bear Protection Act to ban importation of polar bear trophies have signed on with Kerry. For your information, they are Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA); Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA); Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA); Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA); Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ); Senator Carl Levin (D-MI); Senator Joseph I. Lieberman (Independent Democrat-CT); Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ); and Senator Jack Reed (D-RI).