Monday, March 05, 2007

Polar Bear Speech Tonight!!!!!

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Thank you for the opportunity to speak tonight on this very important subject! My name is Kevin Paulson and I have been a hunter and a conservationist for the past 20 years. I am here tonight to speak out against the plan to list the polar bear as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. I do not believe it is the role of the USF&WS to set foreign policy in the world of hunting or conservation. The current reality is that foreign countries who control the majority of the Polar bear populations on their lands are already soundly managing the numbers of Polar bears worldwide. Based on current scientific numbers being used today the Polar bear is currently well managed as a sustainable species. Current data is inconclusive as to what the direct effects of global warming and greenhouse gases will do to the polar bear and other species in the arctic.

As a public citizen of the United States let me also state that I am appalled that we as a nation are not doing more to battle the oncoming threat of global warming! As a conservationist, I am deeply concerned about the effects of the global climate change. I am very aware of the realities of global warming and have been paying close attention to the models, the data and the realities of today’s climactic changes. As a father of 3 young children whom I plan to bring up in the tradition of the outdoors and in the tradition of the North American Model of Conservation, I fear for their future. We must make dramatic decisions today to change the effects of our current oil based society and eliminate as much as possible greenhouse gases. The coming months and years are going to be filled with hard decisions that are not going to be popular with society as whole but they are decisions which must be made for the protection of our entire world.

So, why would someone who believes so strongly about this looming threat come here tonight to tell you that he thinks keeping the polar bear off of the Endangered Species Act is a good plan at the current time. I believe a listing of this majestic species as threatened or endangered would be detrimental to current conservation efforts based on sustainable use and would only harm the conservation efforts of this species and not help in the recovery of this majestic species.

Polar bear are recognized by hunters worldwide as a very valuable trophy and sought out as a once in a lifetime hunt. We as citizens of the United States currently only have one option to hunt Polar Bear in the world and that is in specific regions of Canada where under the Marine Mammal Protection Act data shows that these animals are being harvested in a sustainable manner. Canada at this current time is debating the merits of increasing the polar bear harvest in their country according to the scientific data they have used to manage this species. This data is the same data that the USF&WS has seen and uses to allow the import of Polar Bear trophies into the United States.

Without the dollars from American hunters and the conservation dollars from these interested hunters the amount of money for research on these majestic species will surely dwindle. The change in status by the USF&WS would do nothing to curb the Canadian hunting but would stop American hunters from participating in these hunts. Of the current Polar Bear harvest in Canada, 92% of the hunters come from the United States! Based on the realities of these hunts, the current prices for a polar bear hunt is close to $40,000.00 plus expenses and the majority of those dollars go directly to indigenous tribes in the areas where polar bears reside and some fees go directly to the Canadian government to use for research and management of such hunts. Without American hunters being allowed to participate in these hunts these dollars would surely decline. Without American hunters the conservation dollars that American hunters put into the animals they perceive as valuable game resources, Polar bear research will significantly decline.

I am unsure as to how the USF&WS and the current administration believes that a listing of Polar Bears at this time on the Endangered Species Act would assist in the recovery and in any way benefit the animal it is so intent on listing. How does the USF&WS propose to assist in the recovery of this animal? It has no control over or influence on foreign governments to impose policy on whether a species should or should not be hunted, managed or grown on foreign soil.

It has been proven time and time again that the private conservation dollars that go into research, science and protection of animals and their habitat traditionally comes from hunters. To prevent only American hunters from being able to partake in this process and to set a precedent that the USF&WS can and will try to set foreign policy in Canada and other countries is a tremendous mistake.

The USF&WS should also take into account the damage it will be doing to the local economies of the Indigenous people in these foreign lands who benefit from the current sale of tags and the outfitting of hunters in these regions. Without the dollars from U.S. sportsmen and women who hunt for these majestic animals, a majority of these indigenous communities will have to seek out other ways to bring in revenue to their communities. As well there will be no safeguards against the poaching of these animals in those areas if these communities do not feel there is great value in these animals for their communities and for themselves. Under current reality the local people of the Arctic see the conservation of the polar bear as important to both their economic situation, which is often a combination of subsistence and cash economies, and the cultural and spiritual benefits they derive from the species. The USF&WS should not be doing anything to take away the importance of the Polar bear to these people.

For all these reasons, an unnecessary listing of the polar bear would be detrimental to the conservation of this animal. Listing would eliminate the ability of U.S. hunters to bring trophies into this country, which would eliminate a major incentive for U.S. hunters to travel to Canada to hunt polar bear and support conservation efforts for this fine species. Listing would not in any way affect the recovery of these animals and hurts the economies of the local peoples in these regions. I urge this the USF&WS to drop this listing and to work in partnership with foreign governments to increase the amount of private conservation programs worldwide on this very important animal and the land in which it thrives currently in a sustainable way

Thank you,

Kevin Paulson
11005 North Lamont Court
Fredericksburg, VA 22407