A U.S.-backed proposal to ban the international trade of polar bear skins, teeth and claws was defeated Thursday at a UN wildlife meeting in Doha, Qatar, over concerns it would hurt indigenous economies and arguments the practice didn’t pose a significant threat to the animals.
The Americans argued at the 175-nation Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES, that the sale of polar bear skins is compounding the loss of the animals’ sea ice habitat due to climate change. There are projections that polar bear numbers, estimated at 20,000 to 25,000, could decline by two-thirds by 2050 due to habitat loss in the Arctic.
"We’re disappointed," said Jane Lyder, the Department of Interior’s deputy assistant secretary for fish and wildlife and parks. "But we understand that CITES is still trying to understand how to incorporate climate change into its decision making."