Hunting of polar bears must be banned if species has any chance of survival, expert warns

Hunting of polar bears must be banned if species has any chance of survival, expert warns

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Hunting of for their skins and trophies  must be banned or the iconic Arctic species will die out, a conservationist has warned.

Not only are the animals battling to survive the impact of , which is melting the ice they need to hunt on, but trophy and a soaring demand for their skins in China are speeding their extinction.

A hunter poses with a dead

Awarding-winning wildlife photographer and conservationist Ole Liodden, who has spent four years working on a project to highlight their plight, also told how hunters target the healthiest, strongest males, which leaves only the weakest individuals to pass on their genes.

He warned: “We have to stop and the commercial skin trade.

“It is the only way polar bears have a chance of survival in a future with .

Nearly 9,000 polar bears were killed by hunters in the Arctic between 2007 and 2016, the most recent figures available.

More than 50,000 polar bears have been killed since 1960 – twice as many as today’s remaining population.

The figures, much higher than previous estimates, were only brought to light after the lawyers forced the Canadian government to release them under Freedom of Information laws.

Explaining the allure of the species, he told the Mirror: “The polar bear is one of the most exclusive species for trophy hunters to pursue. But it is the mammal species least suitable because of low cub survival, low reproduction rate, and climate change.

The future looks bleak for polar bears unless steps are taken to tackle hunting, an expert said
Polar bear skins can fetch £250,000

“Although a warmer climate may largely determine the future distribution of polar bears, the vast majority of population reductions over the past 30 years are attributable to unsustainable hunting.”

Polar bear trophy hunting started in Alaska, USA, and , Norway, in the 1940s, with only a few killed.

But the expeditions attracted wealthy clients, who fuelled an industry that soon used planes, helicopters and ships to pursue the bears.Russia banned polar in 1957, followed by the USA in 1972 and Norway a year later.

Photographer Ole Liodden has warned that trophy hunters could drive polar bears to extinction

Canada’s Arctic region is now the only place in the world where hunting polar bears is still legal.

Liodden says some Inuit leaders are against trophy hunting but that the Canadian government encourages them to act as guides for it.

Skins can fetch up to £60,000.

Last summer a Daily Mirror investigation uncovered a host of firms offering hunts in the Arctic Circle marketed as “the most memorable” trophy collectors would ever find.

For £36,000 the 12-day hunts include the services of a taxidermist.

Unsustainable hunting is a danger to polar bears

The companies proudly boast “100% success rates”.

There are 20,000-25,000 polar bears left in the wild, according to the World Wildlife Fund. But that number could be cut by two thirds by mid-century if the Arctic continues to warm, and they are “vulnerable” on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List.

The Mirror is campaigning for a ban on the cruel trophy industry.

Eduardo Goncalves, founder of the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting, said: “Why the hell are we allowing trophy hunters to kill them for fun?

“Trophy hunters kill the biggest animals, removing the genes needed to help it survive global warming.

“It’s another reason why trophy hunting is a crime against nature.”

This article was first published by The Mirror on 24 January 2020.

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Randi Rodman
Randi Rodman

Hogwash this species has only been around about 25,000 years. Net would be your bleeding hearts. Hunting is part of managing the species, money provides a lot of things for the species. YOU don’t realize money pays the bills to manage the species and there are more now than 50 years ago!! thousands more


Too much money and not enough heart and sense to do something kind instead. Rot in hell !


A bit of ‘incompassionate’ cynicisym: kill, kill, kill…as long as there is a dollar ($) amount attached to or associated with, these beautiful predators will be hunted to extinction by wealthy people who trophy hunt for the thrill of it. There are native peoples in both Canada and the U.S. that are issued sustenance permits to hunt polar bear. However, the big difference is these natives hunt the white bear with deep unwavering respect and use every last morsel of the carcass to offer to the spirits as thanks and honor.

Arlene Steinberg
Arlene Steinberg

Not really. Some of these natives have been killing illegally, there is no respect or spirit involved anymore. It’s as extinct among the younger ones as the animals they hunt.
These tribes now have smart phones, flat screen TVs and satellite dishes, and order their food and supplies in like everyone else does today. Given the nearly extinct nature of most animals today, this “subsistence hunt” permission needs to be ended.


Once again humans are pushing a beautiful animal to extinction for greed. Isn’t it about time this was stopped and the perpetrators brought to book with their ill gotten gains confiscated? Polar bears are facing enough difficulties with the ice caps melting without being confronted by a bunch of cowards with guns.

Morten Jorgensen

Such a shame that a supposed conservation organization like the WWF won’t support the protection of polar bears, but only talk about it. The WWF totally supports the continued hunting of polar bears, including trophy hunting.

Karen Lyons Kalmenson

If you want to hunt build a time machine and go back to the Stone Age