The latest development was a decision last month by the US District Court in the Northern District of California to approve a settlement agreement between USFWS and three environmental groups who sued the Service for not responding to the petition in a timely basis. USFWS has committed to decide by December 27, 2006 whether it will propose the rule to list the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act.
According to Jackson, should the Service decide to issue such a rule, it would have to list the rule in the Federal Registry and enter another period of commentary before making a final decision. All that would take at least another year, so the 2007 polar bear season is not in danger. Jackson told The Hunting Report that based on "substantive comments" submitted by experts regarding the condition of polar bears he does not think at this time that the species will be listed.
In the meantime, all the talk of a possible end to the import of polar bears into the US has triggered a new development in the Arctic. Seems Inuit communities across the Arctic have become aware that American hunters want to hunt polar bear so much that they are willing to pay upwards of $30,000 for the chance. That is fueling a continued climb in prices and has led to a number of Inuit guides going independent where they previously worked through a community association, or agent/organizer. Also, Inuit communities are pressuring the agents and associations to collect fees on the high end of the price scale regardless of importability,........(continued)