The American delegation at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, had sought a ban on the international trade of polar bear parts. The ban was opposed by Canada, home to the world’s largest population of polar bears, as well as Norway and Greenland. It failed with 38 votes for, 42 against and 46 abstentions.
“Unfortunately, politics seem to have overtaken science,” Dan Ashe, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the head of the U.S. delegation to the Bangkok conference, said in a statement.
Polar bears have been listed under Appendix II of the CITES accords, which applies to species that are not currently threatened with extinction but may face it without restrictions on the trade of their body parts. The U.S. had proposed moving polar bears to Appendix I, which applies to species threatened with extinction and effectively bans trade in their body parts.
The U.S. says that shrinking Arctic ice habitat, a product of a warming climate, puts polar bear populations in a precarious position. Two-thirds of the world’s polar bear populations could face local extinctions within 45 years due to habitat loss, the National Resources Defense Council says.
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