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HOME > Media & Reports > Press Releases - 2008 > Canadian Inuit Denounce US...

Canadian Inuit Denounce US Environmental Groups' Lawsuit Aimed at Pressuring US Government to List Polar Bear as Threatened

Monday January 14, 2008 - Ottawa, Ontario - Canadian Inuit are denouncing the latest litigation initiated by three US-based environmentalist groups against the US Government as another public pressure tactic to push a decision to list the Polar Bear as Threatened.

The expected deadline for a decision was for January 9th, 2008. However, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) indicated that it needed more time to finalize its decision due to the amount of information it has had to evaluate and prepare for a decision. The USFWS stated that it will make its decision within the next month.


Similar to their Petition action to list the Polar Bear, we once again see these environmentalist groups pressuring the US government to make a decision on the Polar Bear, stated Mary Simon, President of Inuit Tapiriit of Canada. And theyre doing this in very public way by using the Polar Bear for political reasons against the Bush Administration over greenhouse gas emissions, and as Inuit we fundamentally disagree with such tactics.


The amount of responses, comments, and research information that has been submitted over the past year to the USFWS has been in excess of half a million, which included an extended comment period in October 2007 following new research submitted by the US Geological Survey. In April 2007, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and Inuit Circumpolar Council (Canada) submitted a joint response to the USFWS voicing disagreement with the proposed listing.


The Polar Bear is a very important subsistence, economic, cultural, conservation, management, and rights concern for Inuit in Canada. Its a complex and multilevel concern. But it seems the media, environmental groups, and the public are looking at this in overly simplistic black and white terms as the demise of the polar bear from climate change and sports hunting, said  Mary Simon.


Canadas Arctic alone has 13 of the estimated 19 Polar Bear population zones in the world and Polar Bear populations throughout the circumpolar regions are protected and managed cooperatively and sustainably under various agreements and instruments at regional, national, and international levels. The US-Russia agreement is one latest example. In Canada, Inuit land claims agreements, co-management regimes, user-to-user agreements, federal level assessment bodies are but a few examples of how Polar Bears are managed and conserved.


Even with the sport hunts we use dog teams, a portion of tags also go toward subsistence harvesting, and we ensure that all the meat and other parts of the Polar Bear are fully utilized, stated Duane Smith, President of Inuit Circumpolar Council (Canada), Our hunters and guides benefit economically and we are able to continue with our culture, enjoy the benefits of what we use, and ensure that this is done in a responsible and sustainable manner.


As far as we are concerned, we will leave it to the USFWS to do what it needs to do for such an important decision in a necessary allotted time, stated Duane Smith I would be more concerned that careful consideration was afforded over that of a strict deadline, which is why this law suit is not very constructive, but meant for publicity.





Corinne Gray                                       Stephen Hendrie

Executive Director                               Senior Communications Officer

ICC Canada                                          Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami

Tel: 613.563.2642                                Cell: 613.277.3178     

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