Aside from seeing a full-body polar bear mount at a New York shooting club (it needed dusting, unfortunately), it's never occurred to me to think about what a polar bear hunt was like. But officials from northern Canada hope the Endangered Species Act won't keep U.S. hunters from seeking out the experience.
On June 23, politicians from the Northwest Territory were in Washington D.C. to ask Interior Department officials to allow U.S. sportsmen to continue hunting polar bears in Canada, regardless of the animals' protected status under the ESA. According to this Seattle Post-Intelligencer story, the Northwest Territory's minister for energy, industry and tourism said that preventing hunters from pursuing polar bears and transporting hides back to the U.S. would "wipe out" most of the sporting industry income for villagers along the Arctic coast. About 86 guides and other workers earn their income through the hunting industry, which the minister said affects 3,500 residents. He added that hunters, mostly from the U.S., spend approximately $1.6 million each year on polar bear hunts.
So, the polar bears are protected by the Endangered Species Act, but the villagers' livelihoods are protected by the polar bear hunts. The situation could hardly get dicier -- until you add in minor details like global warming and Arctic drilling. I don't mind saying that the minister of energy, industry and tourism's job is yet another one I wouldn't want to have. -K.H.