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House Passes Sportsmen’s Package with Congressman Young Polar Bear Provision

Washington, D.C. – Alaskan Congressman Don Young took to the House floor today in support of his polar bear provision within H.R. 2406, the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act, which allows for the importation of specific polar bear trophies taken during sports hunts in Canada prior to May 15, 2008, the date the polar bear was listed under the Endangered Species Act. The SHARE Act, a bipartisan package of  bills, focuses on addressing a number of limitations and restrictions to fishing and hunting on public lands across the nation, in addition to the protecting the ability to use traditional fishing tackle and ammunition.

Congressman Young’s provision, the Polar Bear Conservation and Fairness Act, represents a limited fix affecting roughly 41 American hunters, including two Alaskans, who are currently prohibited from importing their legally taken polar bear trophies into the United States. 

Congressman Young speaking on behalf of his Polar Bear Conservation and Fairness Act prior to House passage (click here to watch).

BACKGROUND:

In 1994, Congress amended the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) to allow for the import of Canadian polar bear trophies by U.S. hunters.  Only trophies taken from approved population areas would be allowed to enter the country. In most instances, hunters spent years planning and setting-aside savings to book the “once in a lifetime experience” of hunting and returning to the U.S. with a prized trophy. This distinction was reversed in 2008 with the listing of the polar bear to the Endangered Species Act, which stopped all imports on polar bears trophies as outlined by the MMPA. 

“This is not a discussion on the merits of listing the polar bear to the Endangered Species Act, which I believe is wrong, but a discussion about holding roughly 41 legally taken trophies hostage for political gain,” Congressman Young previously said.“These trophies were taken in areas with healthy and well-managed polar bear populations, to the benefit of many conservation programs and remote Native villages in Canada. Preventing these law-abiding hunters from importing their trophies does absolutely nothing for polar bear conservation; in fact I believe it causes more harm.”

If imported, roughly $41,000 would be available for the United States - Russia Polar Bear Conservation Fund to support conservation activities for the shared polar bear population.

Congressman Young has worked to resolve this issue since 2009 through the introduction of numerous pieces of legislation. Among support for the provision, is a bipartisan group of sportsmen across the country. In the 113th Congress, the White House supported Congressman Young’s  polar bear trophy provision. The bill is supported by a bipartisan group of 36 sportsmen organizations including Ducks Unlimited, the National Rifle Association, United States Sportsmen’s Association, and Safari Club International.


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