The plight of the polar bear in Russia hangs in the balance, if legislation currently before the Russian Government is passed. Part of the Chukchi-Alaskan population of polar bears, which was nearly exterminated by the middle of twentieth century, lives on the Chukotka Peninsula. After the USSR imposed a moratorium on polar bear hunting in 1957, Russia became a stronghold for polar bear conservation for decades, and the Chukchi-Alaskan population had a chance to increase in number. Its recovery, however, was undermined by poaching and at present, specialists estimate it to consist of no more than 2,000 animals. Poachers in the Chukotka region kill up to 300 polar bears every year and do so without even trying to conceal it. There is a huge black market for the pelts, with each one selling for about US$20,000. Disregarding the fact that there are not enough data on the size of the population, and that the present situation the species faces is considered critical, the Russian-American Polar Bear Commission issued a resolution that a quota could be introduced on both sides of the Bering Strait. The possibility of moratorium was not even considered. Now, in December 2010, the hunt may be re-opened in Russia! Global warming has been rapidly shrinking the extent of the Arctic sea ice, the major platform from which polar bears hunt during most of the year. Under these stressful conditions, the impacts of poaching on the polar bear population are disastrous, and implementation of hunting will simply constitute legalization of poaching, and a cover for the poachers. With all the pressures the population now faces, it would be disastrous, malicious, and inhumaneto open the hunt. Do not let the polar bear disappear. It would be tragic to lose such a unique species because of the greediness and cynicism of a small group of people that is interested in exploiting these animals for profit. Tell the Russian Minister of Natural Resources that you vote for the enforcement of the anti-poaching laws and to stop the legislation of the hunt.
Dear Minister of Natural Resources,
I am writing to call your attention to the problem that has arisen recently with polar bears. Due to the unconsidered decision of the Russian-American Polar Bear Commission, a proposal for a quota for hunting polar bears is about to be approved by the government.
With global warming and the shrinking of the Arctic ice shield, it is urgent to protect the bears and their habitats. With all the pressures the species face, opening the hunt may not only be harmful, but may also lead to the extinction of the population.
Many people are concerned about the situation with polar bears worldwide. Several populations are known to be declining, among which is the Chukotka-Alaska population. It is well known that poachers in Chukotka kill up to 300 animals per year. Introducing a quota would in reality, only serve to legalize the poaching.
It is not global warming that is dangerous for polar bears; the species has survived cyclic warm periods and glaciations before. It is the presence and activity of humans in the Arctic that pose a very real threat for bears. With all the pressures on the population now, it would be disastrous, malicious, and inhumane to open the hunt. It would be tragic to lose such a unique species because of the greediness and cynicism of a small group of people that is interested in exploiting these animals for profit.
Measures should be taken now before it is too late. Instead of opening the hunt, the government should enforce existing laws against poaching and help to protect the bears.
Please help to prevent the government from making a serious mistake by opening the polar bear hunt. The world needs to preserve its natural treasures, amongst which polar bear is one of the most outstanding.
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