Target: Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Goal: Stop the legal sport hunting of polar bears in Canada
Polar bears were the first vertebrate species to be listed as threatened by global warming by the U.S. Endangered Species Act, but climate change isn’t their only enemy. In Canada, hunting polar bears is still legal by non-native sport hunters with a native guide. Though melting polar ice and lack of food are the major contributors to polar bear population decrease, hunting cannot be ignored as a significant factor. The exploitation of these unique and endangered animals by non-native hunters needs to stop before we lose the polar bear forever.
Currently, Inuit populations depend upon polar bear hunting as part of their income. A polar bear can feed over a dozen people and big game hunters from other countries may pay up to $50,000 to hunt one of these animals. That’s a lot of income for impoverished communities, but allowing an entire species to go extinct because the government isn’t adequately caring for its people is entirely unethical.
According to native people in areas with polar bear populations, the animals aren’t endangered and populations are stable, if not increasing. Populations of bears that live farther north face threats that southern-dwelling bears don’t, such as habitat fragmentation from melting ice. There are a lot of variables at work, and more investigation needs to be done as to the condition of the overall polar bear population.
To eradicate some of this sport hunting, the Canadian government needs to better support its indigenous people. Inuit people have been historically forced off of their lands and many communities now face poverty and rampant substance abuse. Rather than forcing these communities to rely on the exploitation of animals by non-natives, support them at their roots by lowering housing costs and increasing the availability of health care. Ask the native communities what can be done to help them; they know best what they need, and aiding the Inuit communities will result in a better world for humans and animals alike.
Sign the petition below to urge the Prime Minister of Canada to protect polar bear populations by working to improve the livelihood of the Inuit people.
Dear Prime Minister Harper,
Polar bears are an important source of nutrition and income for many indigenous Canadians, including Inuit people, but much of the hunting that goes on is done by non-native big game hunters accompanied by native guides. The appeal of this service is obvious—with rates that go as high as $50,000 per trip, this is an incredibly lucrative business for native people.
Unfortunately, even though polar bear populations appear to be stable in northern Canada, the same is not true farther north. As ice melts, polar bears find it harder and harder to find food and shelter, and many drown trying to reach a safe destination. We need to take action now to save them before they go extinct.
This is a difficult issue because the livelihood of Inuit people depends upon polar bears for food and income. Rather than pushing for the banning of hunting at the expense of Inuit lives, I ask that you tackle these issues together. If we can improve the living situations of Inuit people, we can eliminate some of the necessity of allowing foreign, non-native big game hunters to exploit the polar bear population
Inuit people deserve more opportunities than they currently have. Affordable housing, access to medical care, and more jobs are goals that will help improve the quality of life for poor communities in Canada and, by extension, also help save the dwindling worldwide polar bear population. Please use your platform as Prime Minister of Canada to advocate for polar bear preservation by encouraging the Canadian government to help the native people.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Clayoquot via Wikimedia Commons