A severe decline in Canada^s M^Clintock Channel polar bear population has
caused the Interior Department^s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ban the
importation of polar bears taken after May 31, 2000, the close of the
1999-2000 hunting season. The ban will remain in effect until the agency
determines that the population is healthy.
Polar bears are protected under the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act
(MMPA) which gives the Service the authority to regulate import permits.
The Service placed an interim ban on the importation of these bears under
an emergency rule published in January 2001.
"The Canadian Wildlife Service informed us that it had revised the size of
the M^Clintock Channel polar bear population downward from 700 to some 300
animals," said Marshall Jones, Acting Service Director. "In light of the
smaller number, we are required by the law to stop issuing import permits
until these polar bears are restored to a level where they can sustain some
Canada decreased the sport-hunting quota for the M^Clintock Channel polar
bear population from 32 to 12 animals for the 2000/2001 harvest season. In
addition there is a hunting moratorium for 2001/2002. Canada is monitoring
the M^Clintock Channel population and developing a long-term management
strategy and recovery goals. When scientific and management data indicate
that the M^Clintock polar bears are sustainable, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service will consider whether the import permit ban should be relaxed.
The MMPA requires the Service to review the best available information and
independently decide whether specific conditions are met before it can
issue import permits for polar bear trophies taken in Canada. In making
its determination, the Service must look at whether Canada has a
sport-hunting program based on scientifically sound quotas that ensure the
maintenance of the specific polar bear population at a sustainable level.
It must also consider whether the monitoring and enforcement program meets
the purposes of the 1973 International Agreement on the Conservation of
For a copy of the October 5, 2001 Federal Register notice and a fact sheet
on importing polar bear trophies, please visit the Service^s International
Affairs homepage at http://international.fws.gov.